All the Money in the World

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All The Money in the World
"I have no comment on the sudden change in my ex-father-in-law's appearance."

Just in time for Christmas comes “All the Money in the World,” the story of billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, much better suited for the role than Kevin Spacey in old-age makeup would have been), a terrible miser who refuses to part with even a tiny fraction of his fortune to pay the ransom when his 16-year-old grandson, Paul III (Charlie Plummer, no relation), is kidnapped by the Italian Mafia in 1973. In the end, the old cheapskate … is still an old cheapskate. Take that, Dickens!

As an indictment of vile capitalist swine, Ridley Scott’s fact-based melodrama has a satisfying flavor, but it’s hindered by a lack of focus. David Scarpa’s script (based on John Pearson’s book) has Paul III narrating occasionally, but he’s not the protagonist. Neither is his grandpa. His resilient, patrician mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), is the closest thing the movie has to a protagonist — but the film only pays enough attention to her to make us wish it paid more.

Ex-CIA agent Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) helps Gail negotiate with the kidnappers and her ex-father-in-law, both angles offering suspense that Scott exploits with his usual grandeur. Brief, compelling historical interludes fill us in on whatever backstory is needed without trying to cover anyone’s entire life. The film doesn’t drag, but it never quite finds its angle, either, content to unload the story on us and call it a day.

C+ (2 hrs., 12 min.; R, scattered harsh profanity, brief strong violence.)