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Movie Review: “All the Money in the World”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

All the Money in the World

Theatrical Release: 12/25/2017

Theatrical Release: 12/25/2017

Synopsis

Jean Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) is the richest man who has ever lived. He has built his fortune through the immense success of his company, Getty Oil. Through this incredible success, Jean Paul Getty had little time for his family. John Paul Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchanan) was neglected by his father his entire life, but now he has a son of his own, and reaches out to his father for a job. Jean Paul Getty immediately takes a liking to his grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), so he gives his son a job to be closer to the boy.

After a decade, John Paul Getty III has grown to a young teen, but has just been kidnapped as he was wandering the streets of Rome. The kidnappers quickly come forward, boasting that they have taken the grandson of the richest man alive. They are demanding $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, but Jean Paul Getty has other intentions. He tasks the head of his personal security, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), with keeping an eye on Gail Harris and finding his grandson before the kidnappers do him harm.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Michelle Williams (+8pts)

Long & Shallow (-8pts)

Mark Wahlberg (+5pts)

Character Development (-5pts)

John Paul Getty (+4pts)

Time (-2pts)

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Pro: Michelle Williams (+8pts)

Michelle Williams was a force in this movie. She carried pretty much all of the story's emotion and its intensity throughout the duration of the movie. 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 story was about Jean Paul Getty and the abduction of his grandson, John Paul Getty III, but the story was told from the perspective of neither.

The main character was without a doubt Gail Harris. This was her story and Michelle Williams did a fantastic job in the role. There were so many moving parts to this story, so many important people, and plenty of important characters and talented actors. Michelle Williams earned her spot as the film’s lead. She effectively portrayed her character’s pain, desperation, concern, and strength. Gail Harris cames across as a strong woman and a loving mother that the audience could relate to, and Michelle Williams' performance was a major contributing factor to this.

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Con: Long & Shallow (-8pts)

This movie‘s biggest weakness was its pacing. With a runtime of just over two hours, this movie did not have to feel slow, but it ended up feeling like just that. The movie felt very long and drawn out as if it were a long, fact-heavy presentation, where the presenter just kept rambling, with you sitting there begging for them to get to the point. It did a great job of telling the audience what happened, but it failed to give any real depth, which would allow the audience to dive 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 got a good story, and rather then refine it, they decide to 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 movie that felt much longer than it actually was.

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Pro: Mark Wahlberg (+5pts)

Some may find the character unnecessary, but I strongly disagree. Fletcher Chase was a former FBI agent and was currently the head of Jean Paul Getty’s private security. On paper, it does not sound like he should have been a primary character in this already crowded story. When the character was first introduced, I felt like the filmmakers were losing sight what this story should have been, in order to get a big name movie star into the movie. However, this character was paired with Gail Harris, which let him serve a real purpose, as he was a more relatable character for Michelle Williams to play off of.

Mark Wahlberg played a great complementary role. He hit the drama when he needed to, he kept the plot moving when he needed to, he had pretty good chemistry with Michelle Williams, and he most importantly did not take focus away from the other characters. This was a cluttered movie, but Fletcher Chase was one character who I would not have changed. Mark Wahlberg was entertaining, relatable, and definitely one of this movie’s strengths.

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Con: Character Development (-5pts)

As I mentioned before, this movie did something that too many movies do. It tried to force way too much into a two hour period. For this movie, the filmmakers tried to tell John Paul Getty III‘s perspective, while also explaining Jean Paul Getty’s mindset, while also 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? To an extent, but by not cutting some of these things out, the filmmakers failed to give anything the depth that they deserved. If this were put into a limited television series, we could have gotten all of this in a natural way that would have given every character the development they deserved. 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 movie. This is just one example, but believe me, there were more. The movie was just far to cluttered for its two hour runtime.

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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 movie was that we did not get nearly enough of him. This story was as interesting as it was, because of Jean Paul Getty. He was what made this story unique and I enjoyed getting the tiny look into his mindset. Was he a good man? Many would say no, but he was one of a kind, which made him intriguing.

Like I said, this character was not on screen a whole lot, but Christopher Plummer devoured every moment that he was, and he left a lasting impression on the audience. He was the looming presence throughout the entire movie. The film was about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, and it was told from the perspective of Gail Harris, but everything in this story revolved around John Paul Getty. 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 character’s story with relatively little screen time? Christopher Plummer did this very successfully through a great, captivating performance that will stick with the audience, even when he is not on screen.

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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 got flashbacks, and we got jumps back and forth between different characters at different points in time.

As an audience member, it only felt like the characters were dealing with this kidnapping for a few days. However, it turns out that the movie takes place over the course of months. The only evidence of this was a quick comment from one of the story’s minor antagonists. This was not a major issue, but it certainly made the movie's climax feel less impactful. The characters’ misery, over the course of months, was simply not felt by the audience, so it made the climax of the movie a lot less impactful than it would have been if the audience had an idea of how much time John Paul Getty was held hostage.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (77pts)

Michelle Williams is a talented actress who carried the heart and the emotion of this film, which helped keep the audience interested in the story. Mark Wahlberg played his part well also. He hit the drama,when necessary, and provided Michelle Williams with a great co-star to play off of. The two worked well together, and the movie was better off for having both of them involved. Christopher Plummer also did a great job in the movie. He captivated the audience whenever he was on screen, but I would have liked to have seen a lot more of him in the movie.

All the movie’s issues seem to involve time. The movie was cluttered with characters who the filmmakers attempted to develop, but there were too many characters to properly develop all of them. Rather than fully develop some, the filmmakers partially developed a lot, which deprived the audience of even one properly developed character to care about. The filmmakers also jumped back and forth in time without telling the audience. This made it difficult for the audience to get a sense of just how much time had passed within the story. The movie's strengths came from its cast and the movie's weaknesses came from the filmmakers biting off more than they could chew. It was not a bad movie, but it’s weaknesses made it feel like a long, drawn out movie with a few good performances.

Comments

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on January 20, 2018:

Excellent review of an outstanding movie. Christopher Plummer nailed Getty. He deserves and Oscar in my opinion. Michelle Williams was excellent also.