Tropic Sprockets / All the Money in the World

By Ian Brockway

Ridley Scott directs an apprehensive and accurate version of J. Paul Getty, III’s kidnapping in Italy in 1973. The film titled “All the Money in the World” is tense and thorough, despite some uneven performances. Those who recall the young man’s story might well have a feeling of nostalgia, while those too young will be treated to a genuine cat and mouse thriller.

Getty (Charlie Plummer) is with his parents in Rome. At 17, he is kidnapped and taken to a remote spot by criminals and put in a dungeon of sorts. The captors seek a ransom of 17 million, knowing the kid is from a famous and wealthy family.

His mom Abigail (Michelle Williams) thinks it a joke. It’s not.

The heart of the film is Christopher Plummer (no relation to Charlie Plummer) as Getty, Sr. who refused to actually spend a penny to pay his grandson’s ransom. To Getty Sr., a deal is not a deal unless you can get something tax deductible. He once said, “If I pay one penny, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”

Plummer is very compelling here in what could be his finest role. In fact,he is nominated for an Oscar. He is very nearly a man you love to hate. Even the priceless ceramic minotaur that he gives young Getty was purchased for twelve dollars on the Black Market.

The burden falls on Abigail but she has no money. Getty Sr. orders Chase (Mark Wahlberg), an ex-CIA agent, to stick to Abigail, while refusing to pay ransom. Abigail becomes overwhelmed.

The captors mail Getty’s gruesome severed ear, and drop their demand to $4 Million but Getty Sr. doesn’t budge. What follows is a tightening pursuit from one secluded location to the other.

The weak link in the film is Mark Wahlberg, who only seems to have one stern expression per film.

Your heart will go out to Abigail who grows increasingly frazzled, while Getty Sr., whose selfishness is a work of art, appears almost a villain. The antagonist here is great wealth that seems to poison everything it touches.

Christopher Plummer’s last scene as Getty makes him into a hapless figure from Poe. The elitist octogenarian is waken from a nightmare and is all alone, without love or companionship. The only thing he has is a rare Madonna painting, which he clutches like a baby blanket.

“All The Money in the World” is Plummer’s film and he well deserves his Oscar nomination.

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