All The Money in the World
UK Release: 05/01/2018
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Christopher Plummer
What would you do with All the Money in the World?
Most importantly, would you use it to pay your grandson’s kidnappers?
That’s the big question in All the Money in the World – the true story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III. Of course, this was no ordinary teenager – grandson of the infamous industrialist J. Paul Getty, his kidnappers knew that his family weren’t just rich, they were the richest family in the world.
But would they get a penny out of the notoriously cheap billionaire?
I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the kidnapping before seeing the movie.
Of course, I’d heard about it in passing, but the details escaped me. Thankfully, All the Money in the World does a brilliant job of covering the factual aspects of the story, while also adding a few thrills along the way.
All the Money in the World opens with the young John Paul Getty III (played by Charlie Plummer) taking to the streets of Rome… and within minutes, he’s bundled into the back of a van and whisked off by his kidnappers. Ridley Scott certainly doesn’t waste any time getting right to the crux of the story, and mere moments later we get to the real nuts and bolts of it. Informed of his grandson’s kidnapping, J. Paul Getty (played by Christopher Plummer) can barely even respond – not out of grief, but because he’s too busy counting his day’s profits.
It’s this kind of instant characterisation that’s rife in All the Money in the World, and it certainly helps to get a feel for what’s going on… after all, the story may be a hugely famous one, but not everyone (such as myself) has heard of it.
Of course, it’s tempting to think that each of the characters in All the Money in the World is rather two-dimensional. They’re easy to read, and wear their personalities (and their hearts) on their sleeves.
But each of them is far more complex than they seem at first.
Former CIA agent Fletcher Chase alludes to this during a particularly apt moment, as he describes how ‘it’s never only about the money’. Even in J. Paul Getty’s case, it’s never just about the money… and it always represents something. It’s just a matter of working out what that is for each individual. But with the clock ticking and Getty refusing to budge, it’s going to take everything Chase has got to get to the bottom of his employer.
Thankfully, he has John Paul’s mother, Gail (played by Michelle Williams) on his side.
And she’s far more cunning than she seems.
I have to admit, Michelle Williams was the real standout in All the Money in the World. It’s clear that she’s playing the leading role – as the mother of John Paul, she’s driven, determined and desperate… and she’s continually trying to wrestle power from one of the most powerful men in the world while rarely even getting to be in the same room as him.
The relationship between Gail and her father-in-law is strained to say the least, and it seems Getty will take every opportunity to get one over on her – even if that means putting his own grandson in the firing line.
And Michelle Williams really pulls off a stunning performance.
Her chemistry with the rest of the cast is amazing, whether it’s the push-and-shove between her and Mark Wahlberg’s Chase, or the hatred that’s growing between her and Christopher Plummer’s J. Paul Getty. Michelle Williams is an absolute joy to watch, and honestly, she carries the movie. That’s not to say that the others don’t do their parts well – Charlie Plummer is excellent as the captive John Paul Getty III, and Christopher Plummer’s depiction of the richest man in the history of the world will fill you with rage from one scene to the next. He’s an absolute ruthless bastard, and Plummer channels it with ease.
In fact, I’m not sure what else Kevin Spacey could have brought to the role.
And then there’s the ever-interesting Cinquanta (played by Romain Duris).
Cinquanta is one of John Paul’s original kidnappers… but they soon find themselves in over their heads, and sell the boy on to a powerful criminal organisation. However, Cinquanta has a special friendship with the boy, despite their situation, and is kept on to look after him.
Again, it’s a subtle performance and Romain Duris handles it with ease.
Sure, he’s a bad guy… but he’s not a bad guy. In fact, during the penultimate scenes, you find that John Paul’s former captor will go to extraordinary lengths to help get the boy to safety. It really is a joy to watch as Duris becomes a man trapped by circumstance, who’s in way over his head and just wants everything to work out for the best. It’s another brilliant performance in a movie full of them.
That said, Mark Wahlberg is nothing to write home about.
Sure, he plays the role of Fletcher Chase adequately… but there’s not an awful lot there for Wahlberg to really sink his teeth into. He makes some interesting observations, and strikes up an interesting relationship with John Paul’s mother. But I can’t help thinking that the role could have been filled by anyone – not because of Wahlberg’s acting ability, but because the former CIA man really isn’t the main focus of the film.
All the Money in the World is a thrilling, deftly made movie about family, relationships and what happens when money gets in the way. It’s a startling warning to anyone who’s tempted to put the acquisition of wealth before their family… the fact that it’s based on a true story is all the more poignant.
All the Money in the World stars Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, and Christopher Plummer.
Ridley Scott directed the movie, based on a script by David Scarpa.
All the Money in the World opens in cinemas on 5 January 2018.