All the Money in the World, B
Rated R, 120 minutes
Let's just address the elephant in the room regarding the new drama "All the Money in the World." It's the film that Kevin Spacey was erased from after his sexual assault charges in October of this year. Given that his part was recast, reshot and edited with Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer since that time, you might get a disjointed feel from it, but that isn't the case. "All the Money in the World," based on true events, is a compelling, well-acted crime drama, and here's the kicker: Plummer is the best part about the film.
The film follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail ("Manchester by the Sea's" Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money.
The taut, powerful "All the Money in the World" is directed by "The Martian's" Ridley Scott, written by David Scarpa ("The Last Castle") and based on the novel "Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty," by John Pearson. What could've been a slog about the misfortunes of being rich is a thrilling crime drama that comes alive in its second act.
The film is skillfully edited by Oscar-winning editor Claire Simpson ("Platoon") and she and Scott deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the seamless transition of erasing Spacey and adding in Plummer so quickly. Under lesser hands, you would've likely picked up on the uneven spaces, but that isn't the case here, and even better, Plummer delivers the goods: he's terrific as the rich yet cheap old bastard who initially scoffed at paying the ransom but didn't have trouble lavishly spending on art and homes. As well, Plummer's likely more age-appropriate than Spacey would've been, and without all the makeup they had to use to age Spacey for the part.
Williams is also solid as Gail, Paul Getty's mother, who worked tirelessly with one of Getty's assistant's (Wahlberg) to help negotiate her son's release. Adding in some nice visual texture is the lovely photography from prolific cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who's worked with Scott on many of his films, as well as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films.
As seamless as the editing is, film's middle act is slower and runs too long, and ultimately "Money" is longer than it needs to be, not to mention it condenses the real timeline as well as adding in some unnecessary characters: Wahlberg's character in particular feels expendable.
Still, "All the Money in the World" is an entertaining, often tense and infuriating look at how everything, especially people, have a price tag associated with them, and it's a price that can always be negotiated, even in paying ransoms. If I was a betting man this awards season, I'd put it on Plummer (who's already picked up a Golden Globe nom) and editor Simpson. Worth a look, and surprisingly good.