Wednesday, 10 January 2018

All The Money In The World - review

In 1973, J. Paul Getty, the richest man in the world, was faced with a scandal - his grandson Paul was kidnapped by a gang of Italian criminals and held to ransom - and when asked what he would pay to solve the problem, he simply replied "nothing".
The film All The Money In The World, follows the trials and tribulations of Paul's mother Abigail (played with sympathy and strength by Michelle Williams) as she spent months battling an empire and the mob when all she wanted was her son back.
In November of last year, Sir Ridley Scott was put in a similar position when his film was rocked by the Kevin Spacey scandal. Threatened with having a film that would be tarnished by his reputation, that could be pulled from distribution and ruining the hard work of thousands of people on the production, Scott wasted no time in declaring his intent to save his film, whatever the cost. For Scott would attempt the impossible, with a release date of 18th December, he would reshoot all the scenes with original choice for Getty, Christopher Plummer, re-edit the film and release it on date - in just four weeks.
And he only went and delivered on his promise!
It is safe to say that for many people in the industry and those who follow the news, All The Money In The World is now less of a film and more of a statement. A cautionary tale to everyone in Hollywood during the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, that there is a shift in attitudes now and that people will be held accountable for their actions and that even after filming, you can and will be replaced if necessary.
But what of the finished film? Is it any good? Or does that even matter any more? Is anyone going to see the movie for the story or are they now just going to see if they can spot the joins, for a chance to see if they can spot the man behind the curtain frantically trying to hold it all together?
Well, early reports of the figure of Getty playing a minor role were false, as he is an integral character to the plot and even when not on screen, his presence looms over everyone, driving their every move and motivation.
Even with only nine days to prepare, Christopher Plummer seems like he was always meant to play Getty. He has a charisma, charm and menace that make it, ironically, impossible to imagine anyone else in the role and for the most part, his inclusion in the film is seamless.

The only time the switch is really visible is some slightly sub-par CGI during the Saudi desert scenes where Plummer has clearly been placed over Spacey, but to be fair that would have been the most expensive to reshoot.
It is easy to see why he has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor awards recently. While he is unlikely to win given he is up against stronger performances in the category from the likes of Dafoe and Rockwell, to deliver what he did in nine days (at the age of 88) under the circumstances, it is a great story and Hollywood loves a drama and the ability to spin it to its own ends.
As you would come to expect from a Ridley Scott film, it looks like a million bucks (or should that be a billion dollars?), sadly however the film plods along rather undramatically. Like Getty and his negotiations, the film takes its time and it approaches the end of its 132 minutes, you can’t help but feel like Paul Getty and his mother Abigail would have done and wish that the whole ordeal was over and done with.
So ultimately an unremarkable film was provided with a truly remarkable behind-the-scenes story which will ultimately guarantee it a wider audience and a fair share of awards and nominations which ironically proves that All The Money In The World can buy you success!

3 stars

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