Saturday, December 30, 2017

Ridley Scott's ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD brings back the 1973 J.P. Getty III kidnapping

Overlong, ham-fisted, tiresome and melodramatic, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is but the latest in a long line of Hollywood product that takes an ugly and sensational real-life incident and turns it into schlock entertainment. As directed with his increasingly heavy hand by Ridley Scott and written by David Scarpa (from the book by John Pearson), the movie gives us the kidnapping and lengthy imprisonment of the grandson of the then-world's-richest-man, John Paul Getty and lets us wallow in it, even as the young Getty's mom does all she can to convince the kid's grand-dad to cough up the ransom money.

As per usual -- of late, at least -- with his woeful returns to the Alien franchise (Prometheus and Covenant) and his hugely overlong The Martian, Mr. Scott (shown at left) dawdles and extends when brevity and crispness are most called for. His new movie, which lasts 132 minutes, could easily have dispensed with twenty or more of those and turned out all the better for their loss.

Most annoying, however, are the melodramatic touches that dot the film -- note the early morning scene outside the Getty estate with the delivery of those newspapers -- culminating in a supposedly exciting will-he-survive? finale that simply reeks of this-never-happened Hollywood contrivance.

Random moviegoers, who pay any attention to those reams of trailers thrust upon audiences prior to the movie we've come to see, may recall a particular trailer for this film that starred Kevin Spacey as the older Getty. Gosh: How come Christopher Plummer (above and below) is up there on screen in the same role now? Well, even though the movie was ready for release earlier this year, once the current sexual predator scandal engulfed Spacey, a series of reshoots -- probably the most lengthy and expensive in the history of modern Hollywood -- was done so that the film could be released without any "taint." Which simply adds a new layer of sleaze to the whole enterprise.

Does anyone else out there find this idea of "disappearing" a performer seem like something out of Stalinist Russia? Sure, Spacey, the man, ought to be pilloried for his actions, but his terrific array of acting over decades now ought to remain untouched.

All the Money in the World is certainly not a complete loss. Plummer is very good, as the man of the year that moviegoers will hate the most. And as young Getty's mother, Michelle Williams (above) gives yet another of her wonderfully lived-in, every-moment-real performances. She's a pleasure to watch, as always. Mark Wahlberg (below, center right), more tamped down than usual and in a much less "heroic" mold, proves adequate, too, though audiences expecting more action out of him may be disappointed.

The story itself is interesting and fraught with enough tension to keep most viewers occupied, even if the cannier among them may do some eye-rolling at the coincidence that pops up now and again. The movie sticks at least somewhat close enough to what happened in this kidnapping to keep those of us who remember it semi-satisfied. (It certainly makes Italy of that day look like a heap of criminally connected sewage, including even certain small town police departments.) Charlie Plummer, below and consistently beleaguered, is as good as he's allowed to be in the role of victim. Overall, however, this movie seems very nearly unnecessary.

From Sony/TriStar Pictures, All the Money in the World opened nationwide this past week and is probably playing in your area. Click here to find the theater(s) nearest you.

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