an ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD musing
Amid all the sexual assault allegations and subsequent witch hunt in Hollywood following the fallout from Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey was also outed. This specific accusation happened one month away from his new movie’s premiere, but its director, Ridley Scott, insisted on reshooting the film without Spacey. It was an unprecedented move bringing in another actor and filming his scenes in mere weeks, finishing/touching up the movie and releasing it within 30 days. ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD still manages to create a great movie around the reshot scenes, but fails to make the original product just as worthy. In it, John Paul Getty’s grandson is kidnapped by an Italian mafia, and his mother, Gail Harris, goes on the trail to find him.
Considering how much Christopher Plummer is in this movie as the elderly John Paul Getty, I can only imagine the amount of stress put on the production crew. Spacey appeared in the first few released trailers, but Plummer absolutely destroys in this movie. The former usually has an air of creepiness in his characters (made worse by the accusations; it’s hard to watch one of my favorite movies of the year BABY DRIVER without thinking of real-life implications…), and it would have played very weirdly and in contrast to the rest of the naturalistic acting in the film. On top of that, the makeup job on Spacey as shown in the original trailers made him look even more disturbing, in a bad way. Christopher Plummer was Ridley Scott’s first choice for the role, and it’s a minor miracle that he pulls off a performance as great as this. The material he’s given basically tees it up for Plummer to knock it out of the park, and he is so deliciously menacing in the role. Getty is played as very sinister, but with a heart and reason.
Just as good is Michelle Williams as Gail Harris, the mother of the kidnapped John Paul Getty III. Gail goes against all the people who can but say they can’t help her and does the job herself. Williams is so effective in this motherly role and the circumstances around the character give her natural stakes and purpose. Unfortunately, Mark Wahlberg is extremely miscast; Fletcher Chase is a former CIA operative, but not the down-and-dirty secret agent type, rather a lingual expert. Wahlberg is at his best when playing a version of himself, but it’s hard to believe him when he spouts his rhetoric. (It’s especially painful in a huge “eff you” speech with Plummer.)
The actual kidnapping plot ends up being not as interesting. Maybe the Chase character would have been more electric if not only he was recast too, but if the kidnapping storyline was cut out completely. It would have allowed Gail’s horrors to be replicated to the audience, since we wouldn’t see exactly what was happing to JPG III in his captivity. The movie would have been paced better, as well, cut down by 20-30 minutes. The actors in that plot are alright, but can’t stand up to the rest of the cast.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD contains two particularly great performances but contains some pretty pedestrian directing. This is Scott’s second film this year, following ALIEN: COVENANT, and there doesn’t seem to be much urgency in what should be a race against time. It’s unfortunate that this movie couldn’t have been reimagined after the Spacey firing, but with the new FX TV series “Trust” about the same exact story coming in a few weeks, I understand the rush to get this movie completed. It’s a money move on behalf of the studio, and just like Getty’s obsession with having money in things, specifically historic art and artifacts, it might have been better for the studio to have this product finished now sooner than later. The rushed production aspects of the film gave the movie an amazing performance amidst crazy real-life drama. If only the rest of the movie followed suit.
RATING: DIDN’T WASTE MY TIME
(Refer to my rating system HERE!)