New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaJan 05, 2018, 03.06 PM
When the Kevin Spacey scandal broke out earlier in November 2017, many praised Ridley Scott for his gutsy move of replacing Spacey with legendary actor Christopher Plummer and reshooting his portions again in All The Money In The World. Six weeks were left for the film to release and Scott delayed the release to re-shoot with Plummer. And boy wasn’t that the best decision ever!
Plummer, 88 now, has been part of iconic films like The Sound Of Music, Odipus The King and many more. In most of these films, he has played the hero, the central character. Which is why when Scott cast him as snide, selfish millionaire J. Paul Getty, many were surprised by his choice. But Plummer infuses a certain amount of vulnerability to the character making you almost empathise with him during his darkest hours.
Plummer, in fact, is the best thing about All The Money In The World.
Based on a real-life incident that took place in 1974 in Italy, the story is about Getty’s grandson, Paul Getty III being kidnapped by a group one July night in Rome. The Kidnappers demand 17 million USD from the Getty family thinking they have got the best bait of them all. Little do they know that the conflicted Getty family will take weeks to finally arrange for some money- not the entire amount and get back their heir. Getty’s son is a good-for-nothing addict who has no say in family or business matters. His ex-wife, Abigail (Michelle Williams) lives with the couple’s four children and has no money but is the only desperate one to get her son back. So the only person who can pay the cash is the patriarch himself but he refuses outright stating that why should he be rewarding the kidnappers and it would just encourage them to kidnap his other 14 grandchildren.
Getty senior though gives his trusted negotiator Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), to bring Paul home. A former CIA agent, Chase is best suited for the job. Soon Chase realises that the Kidnappers mean business and Getty Senior is adamant about not paying up and it comes down to Chase and Abigail to negotiate, search and get Paul back home.
While in the beginning, the story moves forward rapidly, the narrative going back and forth establishing the backstories well but soon after, as each of the characters wait for Getty to pay the amount, the narrative slackens. There is literally nothing happening in the story for half an hour. Its only in the second half, when Abigail finds clever ways to make her former father-in-law pay up is when the film picks up and engages the viewers.
While Plummer’s looming presence is hard to miss, Michelle Williams also gives a commendable performance as the distraught mother, who must restrain herself from breaking down in public yet is torn inside at the fact that her son is missing for weeks. Mark Wahlberg, on the other hand, lurks in the background mostly and lets Williams and Plummer take the lead. He shines only in one scene where he goes and confronts Plummer near the climax.
Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg in a still from All The Money In The World (Others)
Plummer channelizes his inner Scrooge (he did play Ebeneezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas) and performs the miserly, mean Paul Getty to absolute perfection. He is ruthless in some scenes and in others, he appears as a lonely old man insecure about his enormous wealth and who would be its heir after him. The veteran actor is also far better suited for the role of the aging billionaire. Sure Scott must have had his reasons to cast Spacey originally in the role, considering Spacey aces such mean, evil characters well. But we have seen Spacey playing the bad guy too many times. Also, Spacey with prosthetics would not do half as much justice to Getty’s character as much as Plummer did. The actor brings freshness to the role for sure.
There is another parallel story of Paul Getty III played by Charlie Plummer and one of his ‘kind’ kidnappers Cinquanta (Romain Duris) – who form an odd bonding. Cinquanta is the man who negotiates on behalf of his boss with the Getty’s, he is also the man who nurses young Paul after his ear is chopped off and even offers him alcohol to withstand the pain. It’s an uncanny friendship and the two have some very poignant scenes together.
All The Money In The World is thrilling and engaging in parts. It could have been shorter, considering it’s a hostage drama. But despite the slow pace, the film is worth a watch because of its actors, and more importantly for the ever amazing Christopher Plummer.