All the Money in the World

All the Money in the World

In what may be a fitting outcome, it seems Ridley Scott’s rather tepid and dull All the Money in the World may perhaps best be remembered only for its daring and somewhat sensational headline-grabbing move to replace Kevin Spacey and reshoot all his scenes with the more appropriately aged Christopher Plummer. This move pays off – the only moments in the film that are alive and vigorous are those featuring Plummer. Everything else is competent yet bland.

Scott stopped making truly great films years ago. In his prime (during the early 80’s) and also somewhat in his later revival (at the start of this new millennium) his films focused as much on aesthetics as they did on the tale. His recent work, like last year’s Alien Covenant, have been largely workmanlike – serviceable but little else. All the Money in the world, which brings to screen the true story of the kidnapping of young John Paul Getty, grandson of the then so-called “richest man in the history of the world”, Getty Sr. follows a tired, predictable template for much of its running time.

As you would expect from it’s director, the film has a strong visual sense of time and place (OPEC, oil, embargo) but a very weak one of the chronology associated with the actual passing by of time and events taking place. Days turn into weeks, then months, but the turn of events as we see and experience them feels relaxed instead of frantic. Scott and screenwriter David Scarpa try very hard to establish the film as a damning insider exposé of the corrupting amoral power of limitless wealth when they should have just focused instead on being a genre piece. This has been Scott’s biggest obstacle – he aims at highbrow intellectualism but muddles his stories as a consequence (look no further than the dismal Prometheus for more proof of this). Entire scenes in the film are shot to elicit a reaction from the audience rather than simply try and tell the story.

Which brings us back to the only reason anyone should sit through over two hours of watching the clumsy race to find the ransom money and never-ending banal talk – Plummer playing Getty Sr. as the best screen incarnation of Scrooge. His performance is over the top and anything but subtle but he makes it work. Maybe the lack of preparation time (his scenes were shot a mere 5 weeks before release, after post-production had completely ended) brought out the best form of spontaneity in him or, sensing how wafer thin and deplorable a character he had been given to play (one could even argue he is the films true villain), he decided to ham it up. Whatever the real reason, it just works, which is more than what can be said about the overall film.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and