All the Money in the World is a competent piece of filmmaking that showcases some strong performances but somehow fails to come together and lacks impact.
This is a film that will constantly be seen as the film that cut Kevin Spacey. The film was completely shot when the news of Spacey’s past broke. The producers took the decision to completely cut Spacey from the film, recast his role with Christopher Plummer and reshoot all of the scenes. I’d like to say you can’t tell, but with the relationships between characters lacking connection, it feels like the reshoots have been to the detriment of this film. Of course these flaws may have already been present, we’ll never know but knowing what we know, it seems like a likely source for the issues in All the Money in the World. And yet it’s a difficult thing to criticise, Spacey didn’t deserve to be in this film. A cynical person might say the reshoots were to save the skin of the film, and maybe it was, but it was the right decision for him to be cut.
Kevin Spacey has been spoken about enough, let’s talk about the film.
Based on a true story, All the Money in the World tells the tale of the Getty family, the richest family in the world. Or more, J.Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) who is the richest man in the world. He’s got to that point by being incredibly careful (cheap) with his money. So when his grandson, Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer) is kidnapped for a ransom of $17million, he refuses to pay.
So begins All the Money in the World. Paul’s mother, Gail (Michelle Williams) desperately tries to get her son back, she bounces back and forth between the Italian police, J.Paul Getty and Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), Getty’s associate that has been sent to negotiate the release of his grandson.
From here, All the Money in the World should become a tense, complex power struggle between Gail and the kidnappers, the kidnappers and Paul, Gail and J. Paul Getty, Gail and Fletcher and Fletcher and the kidnappers. We should see these characters blackmailing and undermining each other. However, it just doesn’t reach the heights it could have reached. The dynamics between the characters just don’t sizzle the way that they should in this high stakes situation. It’s difficult to say why these relationships just don’t work to their fullest potential, because all of the performances are strong. Maybe it is because of the reshoots, maybe it’s because there’s too much going on, there’s too many dynamics to juggle with, maybe it’s because we don’t care that much about Paul when he gets kidnapped. Either we needed to care about him more or we don’t see him at all, focus on the dispute within the Getty family rather than his time with the kidnappers. All the Money in the World wanted to focus in on so many things and subsequently doesn’t really focus on any of the elements enough.
By no means is it a bad film, it just could have been so much more. It could have been more menacing, with the Getty family manipulating each other for their own ends. There are aspects of it but it simply doesn’t jump off the screen and in places it feels slightly forced. This leads to the climax of our characters story having a more muted impact than they could have done. It needed more mystery, more twists, more turns. A piece with such strong characters and good actors shouldn’t fail in the areas it does.
We’ll never know what this film could have been had it not needed such extensive reshoots.
All the Money in the World could have been something truly special, and while being well made and acted it lacks true atmosphere and impact.