“I’m not available,” says J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), when told his 16-year-old grandson, J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer — no relation), was kidnapped in Rome. His kidnappers want $17 million which grandfather Getty stubbornly refuses to pay. He never agrees to a first offer, always saves money on financial transactions and, in this case, will pay nothing to his grandson’s kidnappers unless it’s tax deductible. That’s the setup for this complex kidnap thriller, inspired, as Hollywood says, by actual events.
Does distraught mother Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) persuade Getty to pay for his grandson’s release? Can Getty’s security consultant Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg) help? Will you be caught up in this family drama? I was.
Michelle Williams is excellent as Gail Harris, divorced wife of dissipated J. Paul Getty II (Andrew Buchan) and mother of kidnapped Paul III. Hers is a complex role — angry, determined and terrified, at the same time. Angry at her unfeeling ex-father-in-law, determined to humanize him, and terrified for the life of her son, Williams delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. As miserly J. Paul Getty, octogenarian Christopher Plummer is fun to hate. His performance is theatrical, quirky and, sometimes, actually funny, but up close his J. Paul is mendacious and scary. Mark Wahlberg plays Fletcher Chace, former CIA agent, employed by Getty to find a monetary-free arrangement with the kidnappers, but who sympathizes with desperate mother, Gail Harris.
Others in the cast include Charlie Plummer as Paul III and Andrew Buchan as his drug-addicted father, Paul II. Romain Duris is “Cinquanta,” Italian kidnapper who tentatively bonds with captive Paul III.
“All the Money in the World” is a kidnap thriller, although its central narrative follows the stand-off between skinflint J. Paul and former daughter-in-law, Gail Harris, neither of whom will give in. Ridley Scott directs from David Scarpa’s script (based on John Pearson’s book). The film begins in 1973 when Paul III is kidnapped; flashbacks introduce his grandfather, the richest man in the world, who installs a phone booth in his mansion so guests can pay for their own calls. “All the Money” is smart entertainment, filmed on multiple locations, well-acted (Wahlberg’s character is underwritten), and compelling until its melodramatic ending.
Rated R for language, violence, disturbing images and drugs, “All the Money” runs 132 minutes. I’d like to see it again for its rich (pun intended) production design and smart direction.
“All the Money in the World,”
J. Paul Getty’s got the stash —
Pay his grandson’s ransom?
Or could he keep his cash?