All the Money in the World (R)

Drama 132 min. December 25, 2017
By Bilge Ebiri
First things first: Christopher Plummer, who was called in at the last minute to reshoot all of the scenes involving the disgraced Kevin Spacey in the kidnapping drama All the Money in the World, is terrific as the mercurial, reclusive John Paul Getty, the unspeakably wealthy industrialist whose grandson was held for ransom in Italy in 1973. Plummer's Getty is reserved, brooding, a grim figure increasingly adrift in his own mind.

So how is this movie? Handsome and serviceable, though strangely pointless. All the Money in the World is a fairly conventional tale of a kidnapping -- in this case, of J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Chris). The kidnapee's mother Gail (Michelle Williams) and a former CIA operative named Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) try to figure strategies for dealing with the culprits. Meanwhile, the abductors try to figure out what to do with Paul when it looks like the money might not be coming.

These are all common beats in such tales. Here's another one, kind of: That John Paul Getty refuses even to consider paying the ransom doesn't actually change the circumstances of the kidnapping all that much. As a matter of narrative, the effect is the same as any official saying they don't negotiate with terrorists, which is usually what happens in these movies. It's easy to appreciate the director's eye even while being left mostly cold by everything else. It's almost as if, in trying to make a film about the gilded prison of wealth, Ridley Scott has made one about the gilded prison of empty, beautiful images.
Ridley Scott Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Timothy Hutton, Romain Duris David Scarpa Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Quentin Curtis TriStar Pictures

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