When John Paul Getty III was kidnapped at age 16, the ransom was aimed squarely at his billionaire grandfather, Jean Paul Getty.
As John Paul Getty III, Charlie Plummer (Boardwalk Empire (TV), The Dinner), is out walking on the streets of Italy one evening, he’s bundled into the back of an old van and whisked away.
Almost immediately his mother Gail, Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea, Wonderstruck), receives a call from the kidnappers asking for 17 million dollars. She informs them that she doesn’t have that kind of money and is told, in no uncertain terms, to get it from his grandfather.
Unsurprisingly for the richest man in the world, JP Getty, Christopher Plummer (A Beautiful Mind, The Insider), has no intention of paying the ransom. Instead he, eventually, tasks his head of security Fletcher Chase, Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: The Last Knight, Deepwater Horizon), with getting the child back.
Chase heads out to Italy to work with Gail on bringing her son home safely. They negotiate with kidnapper Cinquanta, Romain Duris (Pot Luck, Moliere), but to say they are a bunch of inept kidnappers is an understatement.
After letting JP Getty III see their face, they take the decision to sell the boy to another interested party. This party, whilst not being as greedy money wise, doesn’t mess around when it comes to their demands and cuts part of Getty’s ear off to show how serious they are.
Gail meanwhile is battling with her father-in-law who won’t simply pay the money, not unless he can find some way to write it off against tax, and even then, not all of it. She’s also up against the kidnappers, the inept police and Chase, who she initially doesn’t want involved.
All The Money In The World is based on the book “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J Paul Getty” by John Pearson (Legend, Goldeneye) and was written for the screen by David Scarpa (The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Last Castle), with Ridley Scott (The Martian, Alien: Covenant) behind the camera.
Williams’ performance as the worried and sometimes desperate mother is a powerful one. She won’t allow JP Getty to bully her and sees through him early, despite occasionally being taken in by his lies where money or ‘things’ are concerned.
Christopher Plummer is a delight as Getty the elder. A miserly businessman who likes to win at everything he does. Plummer plays Getty as I guess how the man himself was; a man who appears baffled why no-one else thinks as he does.
If anyone doesn’t quite fit-in with the cast and characters I’m afraid to say it’s Wahlberg. He plays his usual self, the same we’ve seen in previous movies, but this almost nonchalant approach doesn’t work when surrounded by the calibre of the other performances. He seems a little lost and his character jars with the surroundings.
All The Money In The World had a much publicised troubled production after Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer. It’s a decision that I think has worked wonderfully, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in that roll.
Whilst the majority of the performances are good and the look and feel of the movie are great, I wouldn’t have felt cheated had some further editing been completed, particularly around the constant reminder of how rich and miserly JP Getty was.
At the beginning we jump around in time to provide a slight bit of background to the man and how he gained his wealth.
From them in on though, we’re constantly reminded of how Getty wouldn’t spend money, all whilst we’re also shown his ostentatious wealth. Whilst this is obviously useful information to know (and one of the main focusses of the film outside of the kidnapping), Charlie Plummer’s voiceover tells us it’s for context, I felt like Scarpa and Scott are treating the audience like fools.
The constant barrage felt as if they weren’t convinced you’d understand a) how rich JP Getty was or b) that he didn’t like spending his money unless it was on things like art. It grated on me, perhaps more than it should, but I felt it bloated the over two-hour runtime unnecessarily.