The film had been in news for its decision to replace actor Kevin Spacey following sexual allegations against him this fall. He has been replaced by Christopher Plummer who is the second lead in the film, which means nearly 30 percent of the film had to be reshot with just six weeks to the announced date of release! The remarkable and seamless technical achievement is evident when you watch the film. Christopher Plummer delivers brilliantly in record time along with actors sharing screen space with him, Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg in particular, who come in fresh responding anew to another actor’s completely different energy.
In fact, the legendary Christopher Plummer brings to perfection the role of the billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty and delivers a powerful, magnetic, scene-stealing performance. He plays someone we love to hate yet infuse the character with enough humanity, tragedy, loneliness and unhappiness. There are moments you feel sorry for him.
Compared to other characters, Charlie Plummer (who is not related to Christopher Plummer) as the kidnapped teenager, John Paul Getty III; Michelle Williams as Abigail Harris, Paul’s mother, and Mark Wahlberg as Fletcher Chace, the security specialist tasked with bringing Paul home, Christopher Plummer has less screen time but it is his performance that resonates the strongest, even when off-screen.
He is not a villain, but beyond rich of other values. Human emotions touches him but in muted form. He sees a ploy in every suggestion. For instance, an appeal for higher consideration by his security man (Wahlberg) makes him suspect of a money angle. He keeps finding evidence of his belief that everyone is a little selfish and mercenary as he is. Plummer plays the foxy-grandpa to the hilt.
This brings him into conflict with his former daughter-in-law, Abigail, the kidnapped boy’s mother played impeccably by Michelle Williams. She is the penniless but loving mother who refused alimony from the Gettys after her divorce from the drunken husband and heir apparent. The movie is unique among kidnap sagas as the primary conflict isn’t between the victim and the kidnappers, or the mother and the kidnappers, but between Abigail and her former father-in-law. And therefore, her role demands that Williams remain at a pitch of emotion throughout and then top even that and she is flat-out terrific as Gail, a mother keeping herself together one moment at a time. Her clashes with Plummer are powerful, in part because she’s so justifiably bewildered.
Mark Wahlberg brings a clipped intensity to Fletcher Chase, a Getty-employed fixer who waffles between morality and his pay-check; and Charlie Plummer is perfect as Paul, whose big blue eyes were never meant to see the worst of humanity.
Directed by Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World is a well-paced, great-looking and nimble take on one of the most famous kidnapping cases of the 20th century. He has done a meticulous job of unraveling myriad gruesome facts in the case, and despite a predictable turn out, a complex crime is played to the final throw of the dice by opposing forces. Teamed with Plummer, Scott has a way of making this look suspenseful, abundance of stylish drama and all very easy. He has managed to bring on screen a gripping suspense thriller and a fabulous portrait of the bottomless nature of greed.