<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Charlie Plummer, Andrew Buchan
Running time: 2 hours 12 minutes
What is supposed to be a movie ‘based on true events’ turns out more to be one that has been ‘dramatised’ (as is stated very clearly at the end of the film) for effect.
Isn’t this the movie that had Kevin Spacey in it originally and then they replaced him after all those nasty sexual misconduct allegations? Yes it is. But you’d never know it. Christopher Plummer does such a good job in the film’s reshoots that you wonder why on earth they wouldn’t have chosen him in the first place.
Plummer plays billionaire John Paul Getty who at one time was the richest man on the planet. He was also the most miserly, which is made clear when he refuses to help his former daughter-in-law Gail (Michelle Williams), pay the ransom money for his teenage grandson Paul (Charlie Plummer, not related to Christopher) who was abducted in Italy.
After this bit of drama, the rest of the film unfolds pretty formulaically like any other kidnap drama. In fact, I watched the 1996 kidnap thriller Ranson (directed by Ron Howard and starring Mel Gibson and Gary Sinise) a while ago on TV and experienced much more excitement and engagement than while viewing All the Money in the World. They don’t make them like the used to.
The bumbling villains, the friendly kidnapper (Romain Duris), the back and forth for ransom money and even the attempt at a ‘hero’ in the form of Mark Wahlberg’s ‘secret agent’ Mr Chase, fail to produce any real tension in the movie. In fact, you could say that Mr Chase could easily be removed from the film and it wouldn’t change anything. Charlie Plummer does well in his role as the frightened but level-headed Paul; and Williams as his mother is suitably distraught and brave. Still, nothing quite clicks here in terms of chemistry or real emotions.
Trust me; watch this film and Ransom back-to-back and you’ll see how much more of a thriller the Mel Gibson film is. And you’ll watch it with equal excitement in 20 years.