Ridley Scott pulls a rabbit out of Kevin Spacey’s ass

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

All The Money In The World
Now playing, wide

3 out of 5

Ridley Scott may be unreliable (for every The Martian, there’s an Exodus) but he gets a lot done in a day . The man is 80 and delivers two huge movies — Alien: Covenant and All the Money in the World — in the same year. Wow.

The latter film faced a novel challenge: the inconvenience of having a blossoming pariah  in a starring role. “Not a problem”, says Scott: he cuts the disgraced Kevin Spacey out the movie, reshoots his scenes with Christopher Plummer and releases it on schedule. Pretty damn impressive.

But here’s the biggest surprise, for me anyway: All the Money in the World is not half bad. It’s a clever study of the corrupting nature of wealth that sidesteps the usual clichés.

Based on the real-life kidnapping of J.P. Getty’s grandson by an Italian extremist cell, All The Money In The World follows his mother (Michelle Williams) and the millionaire’s fixer (Mark Wahlberg) in their attempts to get the kid back — a task made harder by Getty’s decision to not to pay the ransom (his reasoning is cold but logical: paying kidnappers creates a precedent that may endanger the rest of the Getty clan).

The genre aspects of the film are less effective than the underlying ideas. Initially, the kidnapping feels too amateurish to succeed, but when an “entrepreneur” purchases the hostage from his ideologically-motivated captors, we realize all bets are off: There is no moral in capitalism, just profit.

For a last-minute replacement, Christopher Plummer knocks it out of the park as Getty. Plummer both simplifies the role and makes it more real. The screen vet stops short of making the tycoon despicable, too — a smart call. At least in J.P.’s head, he’s the hero of the piece.