“All the Money In the World”

“All the Money In the World”
Directed by Ridley Scott

MV5BMjQ3MmQzYWUtNGU1Mi00MzRhLThiZWQtYzMwYTRmZmY1YWYyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_So you say you’ve heard how Christopher Plummer came out of nowhere to help complete Ridley Scott’s latest drama, “All the Money In the World” after the disgraced Kevin Spacey was removed from the film two weeks before it was to be released? And you’ve heard it has THREE Globe nominations (Picture, Plummer and Michelle Williams)? So, you’re definitely intrigued, right? Yeah, so was I, so much so that I saw it on Christmas Day when it was released! And…

…oy vey, what a mess. This is quite simply a terribly written, boringly directed, and totally miscast caper trying to disguise itself as a damning of our one-percent culture. Nothing about it works…well…Plummer IS quite good as is ONE other actor. But I really don’t see why Ridley Scott felt the need to make this film. It’s as if he realized halfway through that it wasn’t going to work. The story, which should be crackling with danger and tension is instead predictable, and, even though it’s based on a true story, he makes it seem totally false and ridiculous. Even the moments that COULD be exciting are undercut with extraneous noise…or less.

Thanks to the beautiful photography of Dariusz Wolski, it certainly LOOKS like it should. It’s successfully evocative of the time period in the same way Ron Howard’s “Rush” or Speilberg’s “Munich” is. Maybe Scott should have changed the name to a one-word title, like “Money”, or “Getty, or “Garbage”.  But the look is only interesting for the twenty seconds it takes for you to realize the slog you’re in for.

But let’s talk about some truly awful acting, shall we? Plummer, the exception to that sentence’s adjective, utterly acquits himself well, taking a two-dimensional archetype and making it more human than the FEELING characters. I can’t imagine Spacey in the role…or, rather, I can imagine that if Spacey had done the work, it would have been just as awful as the rest. Romain Duris is PERFECT in the film…the only other performer who comes out of this not smelling of failure. But, the rest…hoo boy. As the late great Dick Enberg would say, “Oh my”! Michelle Williams speaks with about thirty accents in twenty scenes. I normally try not to pick on accent failings, because, ideally, they simply evoke a regional idiosyncrasy. But, sheesh, pick ONE! Her emotional detachment from the story, however, is certainly not her fault. It’s a terribly written character who has to act with maybe the worst bit of casting in Hollywood this year…Mark Wahlberg. He, quite literally, must have been told to act as if he were in a different film. His style of acting has nothing to do with the era, the style, the stakes or the plot. You see, some of the characters are highly allegorical, and others are played totally straight. The problem is Scott wants Wahlberg to represent about seventeen different things and, alas, that’s not what Wahlberg does. Wahlberg plays Wahlberg. Really well, in fact. Someone like Tom Hiddleston might have worked. I stress MIGHT.

Daniel Pemberton’s score fares much better than the other elements. It’s not great, but neither does it encroach on your connection to the story. He’s still never really moved me enough to own his work, and he hasn’t as of yet created a sound that is distinctively his. That said, it was better than his work in the MUCH better film, “Molly’s Game”. Interestingly, I saw them back to back which made for an easy comparison.

“All the Money in the World” isn’t worth any of the money in the world. I wouldn’t even recommend it while bundled up and stuck inside during a Bomb Cyclone. There are about a million things to watch that are better than this. What I really don’t understand is why Ridley Scott thought this was worth saving. All he accomplished by rushing through the Plummer re-shoots in the span of one week was to confound the other actors and make a terrible film SLIGHTLY less terrible.

He should have let it die alongside Spacey’s reputation.

Written on 1/4/2018

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