Blu-ray Review – Away from casting controversy, ‘All the Money in the World’ is just a bloated kidnap thriller

Luke Stevenson is one of the hosts of The Popcorn Muncher Podcast. He is only serious about Bee Movie.

Cover art for the 2018 Blu-ray release of All the Money in the World

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 14th May 2018
Runtime: 133 minutes
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: David Scarpa
Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi
Synopsis: When the grandson of a disgustingly wealthy oil magnate is kidnapped in Rome, the boy’s mother desperately appeals to her father-in-law to pay the ransom and secure her son’s safe release.

 

Six months ago, in the midst of an unfurling abuse scandal, a cynic might have looked at the furore that surrounded All the Money in the World and said it existed in a critical bubble. So impressed were people with the film’s ambitious effort to reshoot all of the parts initially starring Kevin Spacey in just a few weeks, without moving the film’s release date, that it was all they could talk about. The film was sold on that basis, interviews focused solely on that, and the newly released Blu-ray has a documentary focused on the reshoots. However now, in the cold light of day and months away from the headlines about this film’s insane reshoot schedule, does it hold up to scrutiny?

It’s unfortunate really that it appears people were so in awe of Christopher Plummer’s Oscar-nominated parts of this movie that they didn’t stop to question what a hastily brought together series of scenes, which occupy ten per cent of the total runtime, said about the quality of the rest of the film. Plummer’s portrayal of John Paul Getty is a fascinating, but brief, character piece buried in a bloated, tensionless abduction story.

It would almost be better if you could accuse Ridley Scott of being messy with how he brings this film’s disparate parts together, but that isn’t the fault here. It’s that the lead is buried. Here, you have a fascinating real human being. He was the richest man in the world at the time, but was too frugal to pay a relatively small ransom, who charged his relatives to use the phone and sought power over those around him at every opportunity.

That’s your story, but unfortunately we are sucked into the kidnapping of his grandson and the movie is anchored by Michelle Williams as the boy’s mother and Mark Wahlberg‘s former CIA agent as they try to hunt him down. They are doing solid work, but it’s nothing out of their respective comfort zones and in a by-the-numbers kidnap story you feel could have given you a bit more character considering its bloated length. There’s rarely a moment between these two that sizzles in the way that Plummer’s scenes do. It’s in those long minutes of time where we’re supposed to commit to their story that the movie becomes flatter and flatter, waiting for a thinly veiled scene of cruelty from Plummer’s fascinating Getty to pick it back up again.

But there’s never enough of those moments. Maybe it was the reshoots stripping Getty’s role to the bare bones. However, it is more than likely this film was handled in the same way the kidnappers handled the unfurling mess around them. They underestimated the man they were dealing with, and as a result everyone left feeling short-changed.

 

Special Features

Deleted scenes, a documentary showcasing how the film was reshot and reclaimed in the wake of Spacey’s axing, and two featurettes – one on how Ridley Scott approached the movie and another on how the actors tackled playing real life characters.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

All the Money in the World gives a fascinating snapshot of a genuine mystery in John Paul Getty III’s kidnapping, but buries it in a bloated, thrilless story that wastes the talent in it and makes you yearn for what might have been if anyone making this movie had known which one to make.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

All the Money in the World is available on Blu-ray in the UK now, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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