DVD Review: All the Money in the World

By , Contributor
The story behind the production—more specifically, post-production—of Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World threatens to overshadow the film itself. That's unfortunate because it's such a better movie in its own right than much of the 80-year-old filmmaker's recent work. While Scott has piddled away his talent on over-hyped, overpraised nonsense like The Martian or the recent, regrettable additions (read: milkings) to the Alien franchise, he got himself together for All the Money (due on DVD and Blu-ray April 10).

It's based on the story of the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to a more famous Plummer also in the cast), the teenage grandson of then-"Richest Man On the Planet" J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). The kid is snatched while gallivanting in Rome; the perpetrators expect to collect a $17 million ransom. That's chump change for oil tycoon Getty, but there's one very big problem. The kidnappers aren't dealing with a "real" Getty. John's mother is Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), ex-wife of John Paul Getty, Jr. (Andrew Buchan). In exchange for custody of the kids, Gail forwent any share in Getty's riches.

Most of All the Money centers on Gail's struggle, along with Getty-employed adviser (and former CIA agent) Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg), to convince the elder Getty to pay up. The ransom is continually reduced as the kid's captors slowly accept that their initial demands were far too inflated. Meanwhile, young Getty III's health deteriorates as time wears on. Christopher Plummer is utterly commanding in the supporting role of the ultimate miser, J. Paul Getty, and was duly recognized with an Academy Award nomination (the only one the film received).

But the less showy triumph belongs to Michelle Williams, whose tightly modulated performance as a mother coming apart at the seams is also award-worthy. It's a career high point for the celebrated—yet generally underappreciated—actress. In fact, that under-appreciation was never more apparent than during All the Money's complicated post-production period. Kevin Spacey, as most everyone knows by now, was originally set to portray J. Paul Getty. His filming was complete and Spacey was featured in the film's theatrical trailer. Then, before All the Money's scheduled December 2017 theatrical release, the House of Card star's career crashed and burned in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment.

Plummer's eleventh-hour recasting required costly, extensive reshoots that involved both Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. The former reportedly received some $1.5 million for the additional production time (allegedly more than Williams received for her entire contribution), while the latter reportedly received several hundred dollars in compensation. This was ostensibly down to contractual obligations (Williams owed the production reshoots if necessary, Wahlberg did not), but it also speaks to Wahlberg's far stronger box office drawing power. Regardless, in light of #TimesUp the disparity made headlines almost as big as the Spacey recasting.

Best thing to do, however, is cast all the behind-the-scenes drama aside and enjoy All the Money in the World for the absorbing dramatic thriller it is. And in case you're wondering about the discarded Spacey footage, director Scott says it'll be released "over [his] dead body." So don't expect to see any of it in the included deleted scenes. There are three 'making of' featurettes, one of which ("Recast, Reshot, Reclaimed") deals with the recasting of J. Paul Getty. And while we'll probably never know how good Spacey may have been in the role, at least the 88-year-old Plummer didn't need any of the unconvincing old-age makeup the fired actor was buried beneath.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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