All the reshoots in the world.
Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World has had one of the more difficult productions in recent years. The true crime drama was originally set to star Kevin Spacey in the role as Jean Paul Getty — the rich billionaire who created the Getty empire from the ground up. In fact, Spacey had finished shooting most of his scenes, as a trailer in which he was featured had already been released.
Come October and the accusations of sexual assault against Spacey came to light. Scott, at the last minute, decided to pull the plug and remove Spacey from the movie entirely. He recast him with Christopher Plummer and reshot all of his scenes with just a month before the film was set to be released.
Scott, amazingly, pulled it off in time. Now All the Money in the World has landed in theaters and is already in talks for some awards consideration (Plummer has been nominated at the Golden Globes, so take that Spacey).
The film is set around true events that took place around the 1970s. Jean Paul Getty was notorious for being not only the richest man to ever have lived, but still being incredibly stingy regardless. Getty didn’t believe in free handouts or relying on luck. The only way to succeed, he thinks, is hard work.
Which is why Getty doesn’t feel all too inspired to pay a $17 million ransom when his grandson — John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) — is kidnapped. It’s not that he doesn’t love his grandson or anything. It’s just that, should he give in, people will get the impression that he’ll pay any amount of money for a kidnapped family member — which would put his other grandchildren (and his money, of course) in danger.
Instead, Getty decides to hire a private investigator named Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to find out who took his grandson. Working with John’s mother Abigail Harris (Michelle Williams) — who doesn’t care about money or whatnot, she just wants her son back — the two travel across Europe and try to track down the kidnappers.
Starting with the obvious, Ridley Scott gets all the credit in the world for pulling off such a risky move last minute. While we’ll always be slightly curious what the movie would have been like with Kevin Spacey in the role and how different the two cuts are, Scott made a huge decision and was able to completely pull it off.
And pull it off he does. There’s never a moment in the film that feels like a reshoot or out of place. In fact, if someone didn’t know about the troubled production prior to watching All the Money in the World, they likely would have never guessed while watching the film. The story still flows smoothly and there aren’t any obvious CGI-blunders that clearly aren’t Christopher Plummer.
Plummer himself deserves credit as well because he gives an excellent job in the film. In fact, Plummer was Scott’s original pick for Jean Paul Getty — it was the studios who wanted a bigger name and someone more high-profile. Plummer, who actually resembles the age of Jean Paul Getty unlike Spacey, makes the role his own and is completely ruthless and remorseless in the film.
The rest of All the Money in the World isn’t bad, either. Granted, it may not be an instant Oscar front-runner like Scott may have once hoped, but it is a tightly wound thriller that is way, WAY better than something like The Counselor or Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Essentially, after the Christopher Plummer scenes are taken away, the film boils down to being a pretty standard kidnapping film. Wahlberg and Williams are trying to find this boy in Europe, while he’s constantly trying to escape his kidnappers.
The stand-out in these moments come from Michelle Williams, who deserves a nomination for this role. Her character is one who is constantly being told to stay out of everyone’s way given that she doesn’t come from wealth herself and that she’s a woman and this is the '70s. However, she constantly inserts herself into every situation and proves she’s a force to be reckoned with, stealing every scene she’s in as a result.
Mark Wahlberg doesn’t work quite so well. There are roles in which Mark Wahlberg can really shine — usually characters in which he’s allowed to play into some Mark Wahlberg-ism, but All the Money in the World feels like a miscast. His character is supposed to be a stoic and serious with a long and complicated backstory, but Wahlberg never really differs from his typical mannerisms to be able to sell it.
Then there’s Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher), and the bit about him and his kidnappers. There’s another standout performance in this storyline from Romain Duris. He plays one of the original kidnappers (they go through, like, two or three sets) who begins to have a stronger and stronger connection with John Paul Getty III. While it may have played out a bit predictably, Duris and Plummer are able to sell it.
Overall, All the Money in the World suffers from some problems here and there — the movie may have been too long and the ending doesn’t reach that level of crazy intensity that they were shooting for. However, all things considered, there’s a lot to admire here. Ridley Scott once again proves he’s a director who’s going to tell the stories he wants to tell, regardless of what anyone else thinks. More so than ever this time, as the production of the film embodies that idea to its fullest. And for that, he deserves (ready for it?), all the applause in the world.
Watch the trailer here and let us know in the comments below what you thought of All the Money in the World!
A highly unusual production: 'All the Money in the World' review7