This movie gained some attention for its last-minute removal of Kevin Spacey amidst sexual assault allegations. They replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer, with just weeks to reshoot every scene and remove Spacey completely. So that’s the main reason most folks will see this: curiosity.
J. Paul Getty (Plummer) is the richest man in history, amassing estates full of relics and art. His estranged son gets married (to Michelle Williams) and they have a son (Charlie Plummer, seemingly no relation to Christopher Plummer). A group of Italian kidnappers take the young Paul and hope to get ransom money, not realizing that the elderly billionaire isn’t interested in paying the ransom. Williams’ character is assisted by a former special agent (Mark Wahlberg) who can help to get the young Getty back, hopefully in one piece.
This is based on a real-life situation though embellished a bit for the dramatic.
As a historical event, this is fascinating. I’ve been to the Getty Villa in Malibu, so it’s interesting to see the background of what led to that stockpile of art. We’re used to the concept of billionaires now but looking at the first billionaire is really intriguing.
Christopher Plummer in this role is spectacular, so I think Spacey (in his old age makeup) would’ve been a step down, even distracting. Plummer manages to convey power and fear and greed without any gimmicky makeup. This last-minute switch was a benefit to the movie.
The other outstanding lead is Michelle Williams, who is really making a comeback with her other films like The Greatest Showman and last year’s Manchester by the Sea. Here, she’s a fierce mother fighting for her child and it’s totally believable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a nomination for her and Plummer both.
What doesn’t work?
Ultimately this is kind of a boring movie. At 2 hours 12 minutes, there are a lot of long scenes and dialogue-heavy moments. There are also multiple conflicts that feel unnecessary to the story, where you feel like it might be resolved or the story might be wrapping up but it doesn’t. Some of the story beats were created for the movie, not based on reality, and they end up dragging the movie down. It’s a slow burn, with just a few suspenseful scenes.
There are also moments that you can tell Christopher Plummer was added to the scene. There are even a few where it looks like his face was superimposed onto Spacey’s body, with last-minute CGI effects looking not very polished.
The tricky thing about basing a movie on a real story is the restriction of what you can and can’t do. Or what you have to do. Here, we have a character played by Mark Wahlberg that is unnecessary, doing absolutely nothing of importance. I was expecting some badass action moments, but Wahlberg didn’t get anything like that. “Oh but maybe he chose this for the dramatic moments?” Nope, he doesn’t get anything to do with that either. He is purposeless.
All the Money in the World is a mixed bag. It would’ve been worse off if they kept Kevin Spacey, as Christopher Plummer is the highlight of the film, though Michelle Williams holds her own too. The movie drags, featuring plenty of unnecessary scenes and characters, which makes the film too slow and too long.