All The Movie In The World

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In this season’s twist on “A Christmas Carol.” Tiny Tim is kidnapped and Scrooge refuses to pay his ransom. Call “All the Money In the World,” “It’s a Terrible Life,” with the feel bad character of the season.

earKnowing that “The Last Jedi” is Carrie Fischer’s swan song subtly affects your perception of it in the same way knowing Christopher Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey after – do I call it “Money” or “World” on second reference? – was already completed.

This may draw some Looky Lous to the multiplex over the holiday – the film opens Christmas Day –  but it also adds an extra layer of scrutiny. How did director Ridley Scott do?

The result is bloated and functional. Kudos to Scott for not letting Spacey’s actions tarnish his film. But in the back of my mind I thought, “Mark Wahlberg was paid $2 million to reshoot his scenes with Plummer.” That these scenes feel wooden may be a consequence of these circumstances.

But they also reveal the flimsy foundation upon which this leaden film is built.

Plummer’s Getty is the wealthiest man in the world, we are told several times, whose expansive collection of expensive bric-a-brac includes a fetish for art. (His heirs created the Getty Museum). The kidnapping of his grandson triggers a vague sense memory of family, but his stubborn refusal to pay the ransom is a negotiating tactic refined over a lifetime with a fixed bottom line.

The boy’s mother is played by Michelle Williams in various knit suits. And since her ex husband is a drug addict, it is up to her to raise the money and rescue her son, with help from Wahlberg, the elder Getty’s fixer.

At 132 minutes “Money” feels very long and certain scenes felt like filler, like the numerous phone calls between a sympathetic kidnapper and Williams, perhaps added to cut down on what was required of Plummer. His staring at a painting of Madonna and Child might be an attempt to suggest the kidnapped youth is the elder Getty’s childhood sled although “Money” is no “Citizen Kane.” Rather Plummer is a caricature of Monty Burns or Mr. Potter from a “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Scott sets up several terrific scenes early on, one set in Saudi Arabia, another the opening color desaturated shot of Rome at night filled with revelers and hookers along which the young Getty walks with the breezy false confidence of the rich. Kidnappers wipe that stoned grin off his face and cut off his ear for good measure, in the film’s gruesome money shot.

What became of him after his rescue occurs off-screen – Getty became a drug addict, like his father, ended up in a wheelchair and died in 2011. Ridley neither reveals this or presents any compelling reasons for revisiting this old and cold story.

Though I for one was left wondering how much Getty would make under the Republican tax plan.

 

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