Saturday, 13 January 2018

All the Money in the World (2017)

John Paul Getty (Kevin Spacey Christopher Plummer) is the richest man in the world and not the type of person who wants to part with a cent of that fortune. But that doesn't stop someone kidnapping his grandson and holding him for ransom in Italy.

This one feels as if it would have been a background awards wannabe/filler that people wouldn't have paid much attention had it not been for the fact that they had originally cast Kevin Spacey as JPG before reshooting all his scenes with Christopher Plummer after all the sexual misconduct allegations came out. It was an interesting turn of events all done at the last minute and, in terms of the film, it actually seems to have paid off seeing as Christopher delivers a very good performance as the avaricious and detached Getty. If you didn't know beforehand, you probably wouldn't have known it was all done about a month before the film's release.

In fact, it's the scenes with Plummer that really elevate the film to a compelling enough level and it's hard to see Spacey working so well with it. I did spend a fair amount of time picturing Spacey in the role - I'd imagine it would have been a more aggressive performance and no doubt there'd have been some menace. It probably would have been a decent performance but seeing what Plummer has done makes it hard to see anyone else making the role seem right. But moving beyond that, the scenes with the character in general, regardless of how blatantly some are played, are the more fascinating as it's interesting to see a man so obsessed with money that literally nothing else matters.

At least, these scenes work until Mark Wahlberg pops up to do his usual blandstanding. Like 'Patriots Day', Wahlberg acts as a drag on the film. When you don't see him, you completely forget he's there until he appears at which point you groan, tell him to go away, and then forget he's there the moment he stops talking (or even during his talking). In his defence, it wasn't the most interesting or well written role. However, Michelle Williams puts in a good turn as Gail Harris, the mother of the kidnapped kid. She gets some of the better exchanges with Plummer as well as serving up a convincing performance during her other moments as she tries to keep it all together and rescue her son. It's just a pity a lot of those moments have Wahlberg in the same shot.

The film, however, isn't all about who's in it. Looking past that, it's the latest from Ridley Scott. He's been a very busy man in the past decade. Unfortunately for him, pretty much all of his films in the past 10 years have been disappointing at best. You'd have to go back to 'American Gangster' is 2007 to find the last one I thought was any good. So, by default, 'All the Money in the World' ends up being one of his best offerings in the past decade just by being okay. And by 'okay', I mean it does the job of being a competent crime drama held up particularly by one character/performance (the most memorable aspect of the film) but otherwise offers little more and fails to really create something lasting. Were it not for the last minute switch, this awards wannabe would likely end up in obscurity.

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