When you are a rich man… (All the Money in the World movie review)

Multimillionaire Jean Paul Getty (amazing Christopher Plummer) is known for his relentless character and avarice. When a group of unknown perpetrators kidnaps his beloved grandson (very good Charlie Plummer) and demands a ransom of several million, Getty refuses to pay even a dollar. The desperate mother of the boy – Gail (amazing Michelle Williams) does everything to get her father-in-law to change his mind, but nothing seems to be working. Time is running out and the kidnappers are beginning to lose their patience. The life of the boy hangs by a thread and it looks like the tragedy will not be prevented. Then a mysterious man (great Mark Wahlberg) knocks on Gail’s door claiming to be Jean Paul Getty’s envoy, specializing in “unresolvable” cases…

“All the Money in the World”, directed by Ridley Scott, is an efficiently realized story that refers to real events from 1973. The creators focus on the fight that the boy’s mother fought with the oil tycoon to help free the abductee. Getty originally refused to pay the ransom demanded by the mafias from Calabria. Apparently, he did not want to set a precedent (he had more grandchildren that could be kidnapped). What’s more, his co-workers suggested that his grandson himself co-organized the kidnapping to get some easy money, which for old Getty was kind of heart-breaking. On the other hand it was also possible that the famous multimillionaire was just a scum and a sociopath, who was treating his family as assets – he needed the bloody parcel with a fragment of the body of his heir to start some actions. The director manages to make all of explanations look reasonable and to keep Getty’s motivation enigmatic almost till the end of the movie. This lack of obviousness when it comes to old man behaviour is one of the best parts of Scott’s movie that – unfortunately – sometimes becomes too literal, especially in scenes that were supposed to be symbolic. One of the most annoying threads that have lost their metaphorical potential and became simply kitschy are those in which Getty proves that only objects – material things – can be trusted and won’t turn the sympathy that was given to them against the one who decided to love them.

The dramaturgy of the movie has its ups and downs, but the same cannot be said about the cast – actors in “All the Money in World” are brilliant and one would have to try really hard to find something that in their creations wasn’t accurate. Christopher Plummer in the main role is simply perfect, faultless.  He fits perfectly to the dark and grotesque atmosphere. His interpretation of his character balances between the images of a cold-hearted, cruel old man, of a cynical misanthrope and of rational patriarch who protects the work of his life in the name of higher values. What’s important, his Getty is not black and white, and he gives to the audience some reasons to actually understand this old man. It’s hard to believe that Plummer has replaced Kevin Spacey in this role in a very last moment. Nevertheless, it’s Williams who steals the scream and overshadows even Plummer’s absolutely amazing acting. She gives a lot of passion and expressiveness to the character of a brave, courageous mother – and intelligent, worm woman who has to deal not only with her father-in-law, who acts like a sociopath, but also with her ex-husband – loser and drugs addict. Wahlberg is also pretty convincing – he wonderfully nuances the complicity and ambiguity of his character. Nevertheless, the actor who gains the most sympathy is Romain Duris, who plays one of the kidnappers. His character is based on the stereotype of a “good brutal”, but this scheme doesn’t stop him from creating a brilliant, hypnotising role.  He also becomes the motor of the action and the director couldn’t dream of better one. Last but not least – Charlie Plummer. His character is presented as a blasé, eccentric elegant, but – what’s important – even this creation is not black and white and Getty’s grandson shows different faces.

“All the Money in the World” has as many drawbacks as advantages. The story is lead in a very engaging way and the action doesn’t lose its tempo, but on the other hand – the director falls into a trap of pathos and literality. Nevertheless, amazing actors can make you forgive all of these imperfections.