At the very least, you have to give Ridley Scott credit for getting the film out on time after what was an eleventh hour decision to replace Kevin Spacey as one of the stars. I’m not sure I would have gone to see it otherwise, not just because Spacey but because rich people with rich people problems isn’t my notion of entertainment (unless it stars Joan Collins). But I was curious.
That trailer makes it look like an action movie, and it emphatically is not an action movie. A thriller, yes, suspenseful, highly political and emotional.
The film tells the true story of the kidnapping of Paul Getty, grandson to billionaire John Paul Getty, who publicly refused to pay any ransom. Michelle Williams plays the boy’s mother, divorced from her wealthy husband and with few resources of her own. Mark Whalberg is the ex-CIA security chief Getty sends to assist. Christopher Plummer is Getty. All three of the lead performances are incredible. Michelle Williams is rarely less than amazing. Whalberg, who is usually only average as an actor, is perfectly cast here: playing a good man in a morally grey situation and Christopher Plummer, as the billionaire who makes Ebenezer Scrooge look kind and generous, somehow had me loathing him within the first ten seconds of screen time.
And that’s my problem with the film. It’s too good at depicting nasty people doing nasty things. I didn’t walk out feeling good. I walked out angry. In that sense it’s a political statement twice over: the film itself essentially says that money is the root of all evil and that rich people are horrible people. The act of replacing Spacey makes the film political in another way. Anger is appropriate. With the way the world is today, we should be angry. But movies are my escape. I don’t like to walk out angry.
I suspect All The Money In The World will do well this awards season. It’s well made, superbly acted, beautifully paced if slightly too long. The tension builds almost unbearably until the moment the situation resolves and I think even those who already know how it ended in real life will get that on-the-edge-of-the-seat feeing. But I didn’t enjoy it.