RESCUE PARTY: Andrea Bodini, Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg in the Ridley Scott-directed film.
“TO be a Getty is an extraordinary thing… A Getty is special. A Getty is nobody’s fool.” In the intense new drama All the Money in the World, reportedly inspired by true events, J. Paul Getty imparts priceless nuggets like these to his grandkids (he has over a dozen of them) and they hang on to his every word. A doting grandpa holding court with the youngest of his kin.
But the aging billionaire’s devotion quickly evaporates when Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), the most headstrong of his grandkids, is kidnapped by a pack of outlaws hiding out in the Italian countryside who demand US$17 million for the boy’s release.
It is July 1973, and Getty is “the richest man in the history of the world,” thanks to his massive oil empire. But, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), Getty is an arrogant, hard-hearted curmudgeon who professes to love all his grandkids but refuses, point blank, to negotiate with the kidnappers whose demands eventually fall to US$4 million.
It’s any mother’s worst nightmare, and for Abigail ‘Gail’ Harris (the ever-resourceful Michelle Williams) this is no exception. Testament to the strength of the human spirit and a parent’s utter refusal to give up on her child, Gail has to cope with sleepless nights and a relentless pack of reporters shadowing her every move – not to mention the despicable behaviour of Mr. Getty, her (former) father-in-law, who prizes his vast art collection above all else. As the months go by and the police investigation heats up, the questions and speculations build to an insurmountable pile.
Directed by Ridley Scott (who specializes in action-packed juggernauts like Gladiator) and loosely based on the book by John Pearson, All the Money in the World is a hit-and-miss film. The plot is intriguing, to say the least, but too much of the emotion feels forced. As a result, the film yields mixed results.
A solid presence throughout, Williams is well supported by Mark Wahlberg, playing Fletcher Chase, the quick-witted negotiator hired by Mr. Getty to see the matter resolved “as inexpensively as possible.”
All the Money in the World could have been a great film, but in the end it’s hardly satisfying. There’s intensity and intrigue and some race-against-the-clock action but, for the most part, it doesn’t feel authentically riveting. Tyrone’s Verdict: B-