Applause all around for director Ridley Scott, the four-time Oscar nominee who had the courage to cut accused sexual predator Kevin Spacey from the kidnap drama “All The Money in the World” and replace him with Christopher Plummer. The film was completed in October, but after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, Scott — and the rest of the cast and crew — got to work on the reshoots. It was a gamble that pays off nicely. Not only did the 80-year-old director deliver the new film on time for its Christmas Day opening, but he also put together a tense retelling of the real-life saga of John Paul Getty III’s 1973 kidnapping in Rome.
The movie, which was completed only two weeks ago, is already earning awards season buzz. It was nominated for a trio of Golden Globes for best director for Scott and best actress for Michelle Williams, playing the mother who will stop at nothing to get her son back. Best of all is the supporting actor nod for Plummer, who was cast in, shot and earned a nomination over the span of a few weeks. #MVP.
The role of wealthy American oil tycoon J. Paul Getty fits Plummer so perfectly that you don’t even give a second thought to what could have been with Spacey (“House of Cards”), who would have just given us a version of Frank Underwood anyway. Plummer relishes playing the “richest man in the history of the world.” One moment his Getty is gruff, ruthless, the next endearing and grandfatherly. He’s also sharp with a quip like, “if you can count your money, then you’re not a billionaire.”
“All the Money” in the world gets under way in earnest in 1973, when Getty’s 16-year-old grandson, J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation), is kidnapped in Rome. His abductors demand $17 million. The teen’s divorced mom, Gail Harris, (a terrific Williams) and estranged dad (Andrew Buchan) are unable to pay the hefty ransom. And don’t expect any help from “old man” Getty, who callously says, “If I start paying ransoms, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” It wasn’t until months later, when the captors sent young Getty’s severed ear to police, that granddad starts to see things the kidnapper’s way.
Two standout supporting roles are worth mentioning. The first, is Italian actor Romain Duris as a sympathetic kidnapper, and the second is Mark Wahlberg. Yes, you read that right. Our own Wahlberg, the star of “Daddy’s Home” and “Transformers” is terrific opposite Williams and especially Plummer. As Getty’s private investigator, we first see Wahlberg’s Fletcher Chase dressed in a seersucker suit negotiating an oil deal with sheiks in the Saudi desert. From there, Wahlberg quietly grows on you, as he infuses the movie with some muscle. But the big story with “All the Money in the World” is Scott’s Herculean effort to finish the film on time. You can take that to the bank.
— Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
“All the Money in the World”
Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer and Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Charlie Plummer and Timothy Hutton.
(PG for language and some suggestive material.)