Sunday, September 24, 2023

Movie Review: Despite controversy, ‘All the Money in the World’ thrives

Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: David Scarpa, John Pearson (novel)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer

Synopsis: The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.


As the screen transitions from pitch black, it fades in on a black and white frame of early 70s Rome—greeted with one lustrous tracking shot of John Paul Getty III amidst a buzzing city of natives and streetcar traffic. Where we’re then greeted with a voiceover of the privileged lifestyle of a Getty. “It’s like we’re from another planet,” he says. As he directly declares that due to their massive financial stability, they’re not like you. But one time, just once, they were. Hopefully yet sadly, you’ve all heard the now scandalous story of Kevin Spacey’s recent controversy and the startling decision Ridley Scott made to replace his role in the film with Christopher Plummer. Even with the fascination of that appalling ordeal, All the Money in the World stands on its own as an unprecedented crime thriller.

Hopefully for the film’s purity, even in respite to the correlation between the incident with Spacey, most people will try to distance that away from the critical reception, because Scott does something truly marvelous here. His solitary ways of presenting a story is undergone through a few narrative jumps. Basically showing us three different perspectives of the situation at hand, from Fletcher Chase and Abigail Getty, played brilliantly by Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, to John Paul Getty III with his reclusive kidnappers, and ultimately J. Paul Getty moving between his (multiple) estates and media scrutiny. However, there’s not one person that feels like a main character. Every portrayal is so evenly balanced, which often times provides the best commentary between storylines due to no one’s desire to outperform one another. Once he peaks the viewers already high interest and hooks them with his dramatic plot roots, there’s no going back.

In all simplicity, this cast is loaded. The three most marketed actors combine for 8 Academy Award nominations and an overwhelming amount of other recognition and awards. Mark Wahlberg hasn’t ever been as intense and refined in a role. Obviously trying his hardest but looks as though he’s giving minimum exertion. Michelle Williams is an absolute gem. Having 4 of the 8 combined nominations she adds this to her list as another home run. She’s as straightforward and fluent as they come. Ah, and how could I forget about Mr. Plummer. The most experienced and perhaps the most admirable actor on the film’s résumé. The nine days they had to shoot his role was brutal from what was heard, but by God he’s electrifying. So grounded. I’d love to see more love for his expertise in the coming weeks.

The scarcity of flaws is quite frightening considering the vulnerability the film possessed with the ongoing reshoots they had underwent. Although there’s a couple of nitpicks to be found, the vitality of them aren’t substantial. Throughout the film, minds may start to wonder about the “What could’ve been?” and the what-ifs of the whole Spacey situation. Not that that’s such an awful thing, but it takes a bit of the genuity away from the present event on-screen. Something as equally mind-pondering that they couldn’t completely navigate away from, is the huge key element of continuity. Once again falling back on the reshoots, not all of the wrongdoing should be unloaded upon the cast and crew, but much like my other issue, it stirs up the brain and gets you thinking over all the changes made. However, I’m not going to severely penalized them because of unruly misfortunes.

I can only imagine how difficult the post-production process was for a film like this even without the reshoots. Crafting something as time-consuming as this could’ve only been vigorous dedication for Ridley Scott, but thankfully the excellence of the screenplay provided a piece of a safety cushion for him. The almost atmospheric presence of Scott’s knack for assembling suspense is felt earlier than expected. He sets the tone within the opening sequence and it remains just as consistent, if not more superior with the progression of the film. He might be aging, but he’s only getting better. He’d be one of the obvious choices for director of the year and maybe, just maybe, it’ll come to fruition.

All the Money in the World is a vast success. Just the film’s journey into theaters is enough to prove that statement, but the inner workings of the film are just as powerful as any other category it pertains. In spite of those couple frail setbacks, I’m not afraid to say this was intrinsically flawless. It deserves more totality of the acknowledgement it’s receiving and not to be put down because of someone’s repulsively, intolerable behavior.

Overall Grade: A


Hear our podcast review on Episode 254, coming soon.


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