Sunday, December 31, 2017

All the Money in the World

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

The 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III was famous for the fact that John Paul Getty III was the grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, & infamous for the fact that J. Paul Getty notoriously negotiated the ransom, & eventually decided to loan out the ransom money.

All the Money in the World, while not a perfect account of the kidnapping, is Ridley Scott's best film in 10 years. Based on the 1995 book Painfully Rich by John Pearson, & set in 1973, the film follows Abigail "Gail" Harris (played by Michelle Williams), the mother of John Paul Getty III (played by Charlie Plummer), & ex-wife of John Paul Getty Jr. (played by Andrew Buchan), the son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (played by Christopher Plummer). Gail's divorce from Getty Jr. involved no alimony, which left her less well-off.

On July 10, 1973, Getty III is kidnapped in Rome by Cinquanta (played by Romain Duris), a member of the Italian organized crime syndicate 'Ndrangheta. Gail receives a phone call from Cinquanta, asking for a $17 million ransom in exchange for her son. Although she says she doesn't have money, Cinquanta tells her that her ex-father-in-law has "all the money in the world."

Gail travels to Getty's estate, asking for money for the ransom; however, Getty declines, saying this would only lead to his other grandchildren being kidnapped & asking for $17 million each in ransom. Getty asks Fletcher Chase (played by Mark Wahlberg), an ex-CIA agent, to negotiate the ransom.

Things eventually get tense when winter comes to Italy, prompting the kidnappers to ponder on what to do with Getty III. But things get even worse when Getty becomes greedy about the ransom.

The cast is excellent. Michelle Williams is amazing, & this is easily one of the 5 best performances of her career. Mark Wahlberg is also great, doing some of his best work in a while. But Christopher Plummer's performance is by far the best of this film, & one of the 3 best performances of his career, along with 2009's The Last Station & 2011's Beginners. It's even more phenomenal considering he shot it in 10 days, & was signed on with 6 weeks before the scheduled release date, after Kevin Spacey was replaced after his allegations of sexual assault & sexual harassment. In my opinion, Plummer does a better job than Spacey would've done. Plummer looks more believable without having any old-age makeup like Spacey had. Plummer is absolutely cold, heartless, & purely evil here.

Ridley Scott's direction is amazing. Scott has easily directed his best film since 2007's American Gangster. He keeps us at the edge of our seat for the entire film. And it's more of an accomplishment considering the reshoots with Christopher Plummer. Scott's definitely alive & kicking at 80 years old.

And David Scarpa's screenplay is good. While the plot is so undeniably intriguing, the dialogue isn't the best.

This is a really good film, but not entirely great. It has some great performances (especially from Michelle Williams & Christopher Plummer), & great direction from Ridley Scott.

All the Money in the World was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Monday, December 25, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 132 minutes, & it is rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images & brief drug content.

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