It’s hard to talk about All the Money in the World without discussing its hectic production. The film was all ready to go with an unrecognizable Kevin Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty. There was even a trailer featuring Spacey, which is really surreal when you go back and watch it now. In the midst of Spacey’s sexual misconduct scandal, however, director Ridley Scott decided to recast the role with his original choice: Christopher Plummer. With the film’s release date just over a month away, Scott went back and reshot all of Spacey’s scenes, adding millions to the production budget.
It’s amazing that Scott and company managed to get All the Money in the World done in time. What’s even more impressive is that the film never feels rushed. Every scene featuring Plummer is seamlessly woven into the narrative. Watching the film, you completely forget about the behind the scenes drama, as if Plummer had been cast from the very beginning. Then when you walk out of the theater and remember everything this crew went through, you’ll appreciate the film even more. While Scott and Plummer have already been praised for their feats, the unsung hero in all of this is editor Claire Simpson. She previously won an Oscar for her work on Platoon and she just might pick up another for accomplishing the impossible here.
Of course even when you take its fascinating production out of the equation, All the Money in the World still stands out as a great film. This true story revolves around the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). Michelle Williams is wonderful as his mother, Gail, who would sell her soul to the devil in a heartbeat to get her son back. The same can’t be said about his grandfather, J. Paul Getty. Presented with a ransom of seventeen million dollars, Getty refuses to pay even a dime for his grandson’s freedom. Yet, he’ll cough up a million dollars for a priceless work of art. With some help from an advisor named Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), Gail sets out to get her son back no matter what the cost.
The performances are universally excellent. Williams strikes just the right balance of being both desperate and determined as she hounds her ex-father-in-law for the ransom money. Plummer manages to be smug and greedy while also being charming and charismatic. It’s ironic that we last saw Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas and now he’s playing an even stingier character. We also get some nice supporting work from Romain Duris as an abductor who forms a bond with Getty III and actually hopes him to see him escape.
From David Scarpa’s fast-paced screenplay to the picturesque cinematography, All the Money in the World is an all-around intense and exceedingly well-crafted film. Still, one can’t help but wonder how it would’ve stacked up compared to the Spacey cut. Will the original version of the film ever be released or will it only be made available in an alternate reality? Either way, the final picture is still worth a thousand words.