All the Money in the World
It’s curious to think that the movie All the Money in the World will never be seen in any other light except: ‘the film in which Kevin Spacey was replaced.’ Director Ridley Scott decided to replace Kevin Spacey in an important supporting role with actor Christopher Plummer a little over a month before the film’s release; after accusations had come out detailing Spacey molesting of underage boys. It was a truly remarkable risk that Scott took on, but he managed to pull it off spectacularly.
All the Money in the World is the true story of the kidnapping of Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer) in 1971, who was the grandson of the famed oil tycoon and richest man of the world at the time: J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, no relation to Charlie). The film then follows the negotiations between Paul’s captors and his mother (played by Michelle Williams) and a hired negotiator (Mark Wahlberg).
Scott is a master at telling such procedural and complicated stories with many threads. He showed us his prowess with his enjoyable Body of Lies and American Gangster, which managed to keep fictionalized tension without losing the necessary realism. All the Money in the World is perhaps better than these former two films because it is a much more calculated and patient piece; Scott has to apply his restraint and build so much tension out of the simple storyline of kidnapping and negotiating a ransom for the runtime of over two hours. In the hands of many other directors, this film would have been an absolute bore, but Scott somehow manages to keep you biting your nails throughout.
Then there’s another surprising aspect from the film, which is Christopher Plummer. The veteran actor had only 8 days to film his scenes this past November, and yet he makes the role of J. Paul Getty all his own; in fact it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the character. There is certain coldness to the tycoon that nevertheless is layered with a humanistic reality, showing us all that he is a real person too. There are also strong performances from Michelle Williams, who brings her A-game as always, and with Mark Wahlberg, who brings the witty intensity we haven’t seen from him since his Oscar-nominated stint in The Departed. The only problem I could find with the film was with Charlie Plummer; his role as the captive and making us care about his well-being is so important since it’s the center of the film, but he’s a weak actor, you can see his mechanical moves when he’s shot a scene too many times, his fear is never transferred to the audience. The only stakes from the hostage crisis is brought by Williams’ great performance in the desperation as a mother.
In the end, All the Money in the World is a very competently made and enjoyable thriller by Ridley Scott. The nerve it took to recast Spacey is truly admirable, and the end result is one fine performance by Plummer, and an exciting thriller to behold.