The sheer amount of gratitude that Sony Pictures must bestow upon director Ridley Scott and his entire team for putting together a new cut for his new film “All the Money in the World,” cannot be overstated. Replacing Kevin Spacey (because of sexual misconduct allegations) with Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”), and having him tap into the psyche of a new, unfamiliar character, and execute it with the sheer ferocity in which he displays, is an achievement that film students and filmmakers will study for years to come. It’s an exercise that all students of the craft must prepare for, and one that studio executives should plan for in this politically charged climate. The final product is a firm, respectable motion picture experience, featuring two sensational performances by Plummer and Michelle Williams.

“All the Money in the World,” tells the story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (played by Charlie Plummer) and his mother Gail’s (played by Williams) desperate attempt to convince his billionaire grandfather J. Paul Getty (played by Plummer) to pay the ransom. Inspired by true events.

Michelle Williams delivers her strongest performance since “Blue Valentine.” She packs a wallop and buries herself into a character that is layered with desperation, anguish, and one can assume a possible problem regarding alcoholism. She explores a character we haven’t seen from her before, littered with the acting gymnastics the world loves to see: accents, Oscar scenes, and pulse-pounding line deliveries.

Plummer magnetizes as J. Paul Getty, leaning into his cheap demeanor but not shying away from the sinful pride regarding his family dynasty. At first, the interpretation seems simple enough before being investigated and relished by Plummer’s raw, inventive version.

Scott’s assembling of a thorough and fine technical team is always on point. Dariusz Wolski‘s sleek camerawork breathes an energy into a very morbid, shallow story. David Scarpa‘s script hits at many moments but is constantly stopping in its tracks like a first-time driver that can’t quite figure out how the gas pedal works. When the film’s on the highway, Scott and Scarpa have full control and the ride is thoroughly enjoyable, but when it gets into the scenes where more weight is required, it can’t quite figure out the mechanisms.

One of the more majestic qualities the film possesses is in its costume work by Janty Yates and production designs by Arthur Max. The two manage to recreate the time period with an effortless eye to for detail.

The supporting cast performs serviceable interpretations throughout with some minor missteps along the way. Mark Wahlberg is once again miscast in a role that’s asking for more of him than the audience can believe. Charlie Plummer adds an illustration for narrating but when asked to exhibit sympathy, the young actor has trouble exuding the emotion. It’s the brief turns by Andrew Buchan and Romain Duris that muster the most memorable moments as they orchestrate addiction and regret remarkably.

“All the Money in the World” is worth the admission ticket if you want to see what a veteran director like Ridley Scott can do with such a quick turnaround. With respect to the alleged victims of Mr. Spacey, I hope you won’t begrudge me for saying that him being a pile of garbage may have been the best thing that happened to the film. Spacey playing an 80-year-old man, with distracting makeup as we saw in the original trailer, might have brought down the film considerably. It may have all worked out in the end.

“All the Money in the World” is distributed by Sony Pictures and is currently in theaters.

GRADE: (★★★)

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