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With: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Timothy Hutton
Written by: David Scarpa, John Pearson
Directed by: Ridley Scott
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content
Running Time: 132
Date: 12/25/2017

All the Money in the World (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Getty Lost

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite last-minute tinkering, this based-on-a-true-story thriller emerges as a fine pulp thriller, bathed in director Ridley Scott's trademark visual richness, and with a few real-world life lessons.

In All the Money in the World, the grandson of tycoon J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), teen Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer), is kidnapped from the streets of Rome in 1973. The kidnappers demand $17 million in ransom, but Paul's divorced mother Gail (Michelle Williams) doesn't have it. She appeals to the elder Getty, who refuses to pay anything. He instead spouts ideologies about how to be rich and making good investments to avoid the taxman.

But he loves his grandson, so he puts his top security man, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) on the case. At first, Chase determines that Paul might have had himself kidnapped to try and rook the old man, but then they learn that he is indeed in danger. Getty puts up the highest amount of ransom he can that is still tax deductible, but it's not enough. So Gail gets desperate and comes up with a reckless plan to save her son.

In an unprecedented move, Scott decided at the 11th hour to replace all of the scenes filmed by disgraced actor Kevin Spacey (accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct) with Plummer as J. Paul Getty, and there is no evidence of such a rush job. Plummer gives a great, truly sinister supporting performance in All the Money in the World as the man to whom a tax write-off is more important than family.

The bulk of the movie belongs to Williams, who deals quietly with rage and panic, and who is accused by reporters of not weeping enough. The young Plummer — no relation to Christopher — is fine as the young Paul, but his relationship with a sympathetic Italian kidnapper (French actor Romain Duris) helps his scenes come alive. Scott uses the Italian settings, the countryside, and Getty's palatial quarters as restricting places, spacious, but lacking in freedom.

As in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, the paparazzi are a constant, buzzing, attacking force here, adding tension at several turns. A few action-oriented set pieces, some chases and escapes, are close to masterful. It's not perfect, and perhaps not very deep, but it's grippingly effective.

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