All the Money in the World will always be known as that film where Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer after Spacey was accused of preying on younger men. Plenty of memes and jokes later, audiences are left wondering – is the film actually any good? And the answer is undoubtedly a yes. The film is a retelling of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson, J. Paul Getty III, fictionalised at times for dramatic license
The film’s director, Ridley Scott, is no stranger to directing true-life stories or thrillers, so you can tell from the opening in Italy with Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher) you have a filmmaker who is very sure of his material and how to tell this story. The scene of Getty in the desert making deals with Arabs for oil instantly recalls the breathtaking sequences of Lawrence of Arabia, a film that Ridley has obviously studied over the years. Despite the epic scope of the film, it’s really fundamentally the story of the Getty III’s mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), and her challenge to try to get the millions of ransom money that the kidnappers have demanded out of the tightest billionaire the world has ever known, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). This ties in with Scott’s trend of having interesting and multifaceted female protagonists in many of his films, going all the way back to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien.
Other reviewers have commented that replacing Spacey with Plummer gave Michelle Williams’s performance room to breathe. There’s something to that—despite everything, Kevin Spacey is a great actor, but he is the kind of actor who often makes his performance the centre of the audience’s attention. Plummer is somebody who can “go big,” but seems to be a very selfless actor. His performance as Getty looms over the action as it should, but he balances it incredibly well. Williams perfectly captures the frantic horror of a mother facing her worst fear, and Mark Wahlberg’s Fletcher Chace, the Getty family’s legal advisor, gives his best performance in nearly a decade.
It’s not a perfect film by any means: the middle section is a bit baggy, which is often the case with even Ridley Scott’s best films. However, it’s such an engaging and interesting story that any pacing issues cease to matter, and along with the strong leads it has a solid supporting cast, including Timothy Hutton, who I haven’t seen on-screen in a long time, and Andrew Buchan, who perfectly captures the strung-out Getty Jr. It’s also an interesting flip side to the Patty Hearst case, because it’s very similar but without the radical politics.
The disc includes a trio of short featurettes, and Kevin Spacey is never named—even in the featurette about the reshooting—and a bunch of brief deleted scenes.