Movie Review: “All the Money in the World”
All the Money in the World
Jean Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) is the richest man who has ever lived. He has built his fortune through the foundation (and immense success) of his company, Getty Oil. Through his incredible success, Jean Paul Getty had little time for family. John Paul Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchanan) has been neglected by his father all his life, but now he a son of his own and reaches out to his father for a job.
Reunited with his family, Jean Paul Getty immediately takes a liking to his grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). He gives his grandson extremely valuable artifacts as toys, takes his grandson to places no ordinary person would ever see, and gives his grandson a job answering his mail. After a decade, John Paul Getty III has grown to a young teen as he wanders the streets of Rome at night and by himself. Suddenly, a van pulls up and abducts the young boy.
The kidnappers quickly come forward as having taken the grandson of the richest man alive. They demand $17 million as ransom but Jean Paul Getty will not pay a penny. Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), John Paul Getty III’s mother, is on a desperate mission to convince her former father-in-law to change his mind. Jean Paul Getty has other intentions. He tasks his personal security man (and former FBI agent), Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), with keeping an eye Gail Harris and finding his grandson before the kidnappers do him harm. Will Fletcher Chase be able to find the young boy or will Gail Harris be able to convince the stubborn old man to pay the ransom? More importantly, will either happen before it is too late?
The Pros & Cons
Michelle Williams (+8pts)
Long & Shallow (-8pts)
Mark Wahlberg (+5pts)
Character Development (-5pts)
John Paul Getty (+4pts)
Pro: Michelle Williams (+8pts)
Michelle Williams was a force in this movie. She carries the emotion and intensity throughout the film’s duration. This film felt much longer than it needed to but Michelle Williams was able to keep the audience invested. This was a weird movie because the film is about the legendary Jean Paul Getty and the abduction of his grandson, John Paul Getty III, but the film is told from the perspective of neither.
The main character is, without a doubt, Gail Harris. This is her story and Michelle Williams does a fantastic job in the role. There are so many moving parts to this story, so many important people, plenty of important characters, and talented actors. Michelle Williams earns her spot as the film’s lead. She accurately portrays her character’s pain, desperation, concern, and strength. Gail Harris comes across as a strong woman and loving mother that the audience can relate with, and this is a result of the great performance by Michelle Williams.
Con: Long & Shallow (-8pts)
This movie‘s biggest weakness was its pacing. With a runtime of just over two hours, this film did not have to feel slow, but it ended up doing just that. The film feels very long and drawn out as if it were a long, fact-heavy presentation. It does a great job of telling the audience what happened but fails to give any real substance that would allow the audience to get sucked into the story.
I think the problem here was that the filmmakers tried to do way too much, with too little time. Too many movies fall into this same trap. The filmmakers get a good story and, rather then refine it, they squeeze as much of the plot as they can into a two hour period. There was so much for this story to tell and it could have made for an incredible limited television series, but instead, the filmmakers forced it all into one shallow film that felt much longer than it actually was.
Pro: Mark Wahlberg (+5pts)
Some may find the character unnecessary, but I strongly disagree. Fletcher Chase is a former FBI agent and currently the head of Jean Paul Getty’s private security. On paper, it does not sound like he should be a primary character (in this already crowded film). I won’t lie, when the character was first introduced, I felt like the film was losing sight of its focus in order to get a big name movie star into the film. However, the film pairs this character with Gail Harris, which lets him serve a real purpose. Fletcher Chase provided the film with a character for Michelle Williams to play off of.
Mark Wahlberg played a great complementary role. He hit the drama when he needed to, kept the plot moving, had pretty good chemistry with Michelle Williams, and most importantly did not take focus away from the other characters. This was a cluttered film, but Fletcher Chase is one character who I would not have changed. Mark Wahlberg was entertaining, relatable, and definitely one of this film’s strengths.
Con: Character Development (-5pts)
As I mentioned before, this film does something that too many films do. It tries to force way too much into a two hour period. For this film, the filmmakers tried to tell John Paul Getty III‘s perspective, while also explaining Jean Paul Getty’s mindset, while focusing on Gail Harris, but still focusing on Fletcher Chase, and telling Cinquanta’s (the kidnapper) side of the story. To make things feel even more cluttered, they did this all while jumping around between flashbacks and present day. Were all of these storylines and characters intriguing? Yes, but by not cutting some things out, the filmmakers failed to give anything the depth they deserved.
Again, if this were put into a limited television series, we could get all of this in a natural way that gives every character the development they deserve. I liked the character of Cinquanta (Romain Duris), and the actor did a great job, but his storyline was unnecessary due to the already cluttered nature of the film. This is just one example, but believe me, there are more. The film is just far to cluttered for its two hour runtime.
Pro: Jean Paul Getty (+4pts)
He was the richest man alive, so it should be no surprise that he made for an interesting character. My one complaint about this character in the film was that we did not get nearly enough from him. This is a fascinating story because of Jean Paul Getty. The story does not happen without him, and it is not nearly as interesting either. He is what makes this film unique and I enjoyed getting the tiny look at his mindset. Was he a good man? Many would say no, but he was one of a kind, which made him intriguing. I only wish we got a lot more.
Like I said, this character is not on screen a whole lot, but Christopher Plummer devours every moment and leaves a lasting impression on the audience. He is not on screen a lot, but he is the looming presence throughout the entire film. The film is about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, and it is from the perspective of Gail Harris, but it is very much Jean Paul Getty’s story. As an actor, that can be a tough thing to get the audience to feel. How do you make the audience feel like it is your chatacter’s story with relatively little screen time? Christopher Plummer does this very successfully through a great, captivating performance that sticks with the audience.
Con: Time (-2pts)
I liked the movie. It was good, but I thought one of its weakest areas was time. I have already mentioned “time” in the sense that the filmmakers did not have enough time to do what they wanted to do. Another area, where time was an issue, was how much time had passed in the story. We get flashbacks, and jump back and forth between different characters constantly.
As an audience member, it only felt like the characters were dealing with this for a few days. Turns out, the film takes place over the course of months. The only evidence of this was a quick comment from one of the film’s minor antagonists. This is not a major issue but it certainly makes the film‘s climax feel less impactful. The characters’ misery, over the course of months, is simply not felt by the audience.
Grade: C+ (77pts)
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this film. First there was the Kevin Spacey controversy, and now there is the pay gap issue between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. Personally, I think Mark Wahlberg should have earned more because having his name on the poster will get more butts in the seats, but the pay gap certainly should not be as severe as it was. Michelle Williams is an extremely talented actress who carries the heart and emotion of this film, while keeping the audience interested in the story.
This film feels very long and drawn out but Michelle Williams makes this film watchable. Sure, he got paid more, and Michelle Williams carries the emotion and intensity of the film, but Mark Wahlberg plays his part well. He hits the drama, when necessary, and provides Michelle Williams with a great co-star to play off of. The two work well together and the movie was better off for having both of them involved. Christopher Plummer also did a great job in the film. He captivated the audience whenever he was on screen, but there just was not enough of him in the film.
All the movie’s issues seem to involve time. The filmmakers tried to do way to much with too little time. The film is cluttered with characters who the film attempts to develop, but there are too many characters to properly develop all of them. So rather than fully develop some, the film partially develops a lot. This deprives the audience of at least one (or two) properly developed characters to care about. The film also makes jumps in time without telling the audience. This makes it difficult for the audience to get a sense of just how much time had passed within the film. The film‘s strengths come from its cast and the film’s weaknesses come from the filmmakers biting off more than they could chew. It is not a bad film, but it’s weaknesses make it feel like a long, drawn out film with a few good performances.