The movie's ambitions far exceed its grasp in 'All the Money in the World'

At 88, Christopher Plummer, who portrays John Paul Getty, is at the top of his game.

Fabio Lovino/Sony Pictures/AP
Christopher Plummer (l.) and Charlie Shotwell star in 'All the Money in the World.'

“All the Money in the World” will go down as a footnote to film history. This drama about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III had a month until its theatrical release when the decision was made to replace Kevin Spacey, who has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault and who co-starred as J. Paul Getty, with Christopher Plummer. Amazingly, all of Spacey’s scenes were reshot and the film came out close to its original late December release date. Not long after this, it was revealed that Mark Wahlberg, who plays Getty Senior’s advisor, had received $1.5 million dollars for his reshoots while Michelle Williams, who plays Getty III’s mother, received a measly per diem. Shortly after this pay disparity news broke, Wahlberg donated his fee to Time’s Up in Michelle Williams’s name.

I bring all this up, in case you haven’t already heard it, because the back story and what it says about Hollywood is far more interesting than the movie itself. Ridley Scott and his screenwriter, David Scarpa, lay out a fairly straightforward kidnapping thriller and then attempt to expand it into a nightmare vision of capitalistic greed. The film’s ambitions far exceed its grasp.

There are some good performances, although Wahlberg, bespectacled and cerebral, is miscast in a role that doesn’t require much physicality. Williams is ardent throughout, and Romain Duris, as a hot-tempered kidnapper, is convincingly conflicted. Excellent, too, are Charlie Plummer as the kidnapped heir and Christopher Plummer (no relation) playing J. Paul Getty as an unrepentant Scrooge who refuses to pay the kidnappers the ransom that would spare his grandson’s life. At 88, Christopher is at the top of his game. He turns Getty into a dastardly miser with an aggrieved core. There hasn’t been such a lonely mogul in the movies since Orson Welles’s Charles Foster Kane expired with “Rosebud” on his lips. Grade: B- (Rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images, and brief drug content.) 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to The movie's ambitions far exceed its grasp in 'All the Money in the World'
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today