All the money

A film now infamous due to the last minute decision by director Ridley Scott to replace the currently “indisposed” Kevin Spacey, by re-filming all of his scenes with Christopher Plummer.

An action that ran slam bang into another controversy, when it emerged Mark Wahlberg was paid colossal re-shoot fees whilst his female co-star Williams received next to nothing, with Walhberg eventually donating his extra fees to charity.

Can the film emerge from not one but two controversies unscathed?

The movie follows a largely linear path, essaying the kidnapping of the young grandson of John Paul Getty in Italy. Getty was quite literally the richest man in the world at the time, due to his oil based fortune.

When a ransom is demanded, Getty takes the somewhat unusual step of refusing to pay, not even a reduced amount and promising absolutely nothing, despite the boy’s mothers pleas.

Meanwhile a slight, tenuous relationship builds up with one of the captors (Romain Duris) and JP III (Charlie Plummer), which allows for a sliver of contact and compassion.

As the kidnappers get more desperate, as the scheme is dismissed as a hoax, darker forces become involved and the hostage situation gets more serious.

Getty himself merely carries on counting his millions, albeit allowing some time for his resident “fixer” Fletcher Chase (Wahlberg) to make the whole kidnap business go away. Gail Harris, JP Getty III’s mother (Williams) becomes increasingly desperate but fails to sway Getty or his right hand man to pay the required amount.

Plummer is excellent and is always interesting to watch when he is on screen. Snarling at reporters, viewing ticker tape as his fortune ebbs and flows. When asked how “much would it take to make him feel secure”, “more” he replies which sums up his whole mindset. Well that and the pay phone installed in his mansion for visitors to use….

Williams usually excellent seems to struggle here, seemingly not quite sure the role she is required to play. Wahlberg is unfortunately as bland as ever, adding nothing to the role as written on the page. Charlie Plummer (JP III) is solid in a difficult role but we get to see or understand little of his mindset in captivity.

It would have been interesting to see the Spacey cut of the film, any less than a commanding performance would have further impacted the film adversely. Whether the film benefited overall from the extra publicity, for good or bad is debatable.

With a worldwide take of only $56m, the films backers would have expected a better return for sure. Maybe they needed Getty’s business sense, with Getty Sr. eventually paying a $2.2 million ransom, the maximum tax deductible amount. “Generously” lending the remaining $0.7m to his son, with repayments at 4% interest…..


Overall a reasonably solid retelling of a well known true story, embellished and edited as required for a two hour film.

Christopher Plummer’s scenes are enough to keep the viewer interested but this is a rather bland recreation of what should have been a taut thriller, with Ridley Scott’s usual directorial flourishes, largely absent.