All The Money In The World (2018) (Review)

Watching All The Money in The World, you get the sense you are watching history being made. Ridley Scott's latest picture will probably take up more online web space than it will make money at the box office over its entire run: the biopic has dominated headlines since the decision was made - just six weeks out from the film's official release - to replace a disgraced actor with Christopher Plummer in one of the film's lead roles. Eager to make the Oscar eligibility window and determined to salvage the film from the murky waters of its Kevin Spacey association, the cast and crew were reassembled in Europe for a week of extensive, intensive reshoots.

J. Paul Getty (Plummer), one of the richest living men the world has ever seen, refuses to pay a penny of $17 million ransom when his grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), is kidnapped in Rome. Paul's mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) fight tirelessly to save her son alongside former CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), a desperation that only intensifies when Paul's ear arrives in the mail.

For a production that had to move so spritely at the last minute, the actual film really does lack the energy to make this an exciting and enjoyable affair. While I'd never suggest the extra effort - an incredibly bold message of defiance to the scum of Hollywood - was for nothing, I do question why some of the film's most pertinent flaws weren't picked up on, and rectified, in the same process. Namely, how it is simultaneously over-bloated and scattershot, with little - drab, reoccurring visuals aside - to unite it all together in one impressive piece of work.

Clocking in at 133 minutes, All The Money spends a lot of time covering a lot of ground but very little of it has the depth or focus to make the very most out of its 'truth is stranger than fiction' story of greed and corruption. It's strangely disengaging and while element of the narrative are compelling, that's down to the true-life events rather than the film itself. There are notably few layers to it and it feels oddly shallow and unexplored, despite that excessive runtime that would suggest otherwise.

David Scarpa's screenplay based on John Pearson's 'Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty' has a story on its hand that doesn't translate into the Oscarbait it was presumably destined to be. The screenplay features some rich dialogue and some of the character work is impressive, but its scattershot approach dilutes the potency of the themes at hand and it lacks the vigour to convey the more shocking scenes with the power they deserve.

Scott's direction is very similar to Getty's mansion featured in the film: visually grand and era appropriate, but empty and cold, dull and drab. Disappointingly, the colour palette remains subdued throughout and while some striking imagery and some slick camera movements are peppered throughout, there's little restbite to the cement-coloured aesthetics. Scott is a talented director, as certified by his ability to pull off this actor-switcheroo, but his work in All The Money in the World left me disappointed. It just feels so empty. He does cultivate some intensity towards the end but a distinct lack of energy means it fades out with a whimper, rather than a bang.

Michelle Williams is absolutely fantastic in the lead role and continues her fine streak of late; finally, it seems her fame and acclaim is beginning to correlate with her pure talent. While it may not earn her an Academy Award nomination this time round - it has been such a phenomenal year for female performances - she can take solace with the knowledge that she is the very best thing about this film. Mark Wahlberg is solid but unspectacular, the weakest of the three leads and obviously somewhat outside of his comfort zone, but he keeps the pace without ever truly selling it. Bizarrely, he is given what you may consider the film's big, heroic moment, but he does little throughout the course of the film to truly earn that privilege and so what should be the climatic moment results in only a limp spark.

Christopher Plummer is terrific - particularly at such short notice - but the acclaim of his performance (and Supporting Actor nomination at the Golden Globes to boot) is a little lost on me. He's menacing and assertive as Getty and he plays the role well enough, conveying what you need to know about the man decently - but he's never given a moment of his own to shine. That comes down more to the script than Plummer's performance - and perhaps the same problems befell He Who Must Not Be Named - but there's nothing here of particular note that Plummer does to elevate himself, or stand out. He definitely saved the day at the last minute; but he didn't, really, save the film.

Standing on its own, Daniel Pemberton's soundtrack is a fine collection of tracks; layered over the film though, it turns it almost to parody. The intensity and energy of the soundtrack fails to match the slow, meandering pace of the film and the two feel out-of-sync.

Slightly above average but hardly the serious award contender it was cracked up to be, All The Money In The World pulls off the impossible with its now famous late-in-the-game actor switch; it's just disappointing that the end product is so run-of-the-mill. Bland, even. Ridley Scott's direction is hindered by a drab visual and weak script too scattershot for its own good. It covers plentiful ground without diving deeper, or further in to the more interesting components of the narrative. The cast are fine, and Williams finally earns a major leading vehicle, but everything else is messy, lethargic and unsatisfying. All The Money In The World but none of the energy.


Summary: All The Money In The World will be remembered for years to come; sadly, it's not because of the film's quality, as aside from a fantastic Michelle Williams and a decent Christopher 'Save The Day' Plummer, this biopic lacks the depth, focus and energy to either satisfy or execute the real-life stories' shocks and thrills effectively.