Hannah Parker reviews Ridley Scott’s newest movie that’s all about money…
It’s hard to think of a film that has had as much attention around its casting as this one. When the allegations towards Kevin Spacey of sexual abuse came thick and fast, director Ridley Scott decided to re-cast the main antagonist, J. Paul Getty. His first choice was originally Christopher Plummer, but the production company told him to cast someone with a bigger name. And look how that turned out. So, Scott wasted no time in re-shooting Getty’s scenes with Plummer instead.
The film is based on a true story. The life of a young man named J. Paul Getty III as he gets kidnapped from the streets of Italy. But when your grandfather is the richest man in the history of the world, it won’t take long to get the ransom transferred over, right? Wrong. His father may be the son of oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty, but he inherited none of his money. In fact, his family were broke. So it’s left to his mum to do everything she can to persuade her ex father-in-law to pay the ransom.
First thing’s first, it’s hard to imagine the film with anyone other than Christopher Plummer playing the richest and most ruthless man in the world. He portrays a man that has had his heart truly turned to stone by money. He shows us how disgusting humans can be when they have power. He has no care, no sympathy, no emotion whatsoever when his grandson is kidnapped. The amount of hatred you have towards this man is profound. That in itself shows just how incredible Plummer is in this film.
On the other hand, Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher) plays a timid young man who certainly doesn’t deserve what he’s put through. He’s fairly nice to his captors, he never puts up a fight, and he does as he’s told. In fact, even when he pulls off an escape, he still manages not to hurt a single person. It’s hard to fathom how anyone can be so cruel as to harm this lad. In an all-too-graphic scene of torture involving an ear, all you see is a scared boy who’s on the edge of giving up.
There is another star in this film though, and her name is Michelle Williams. She plays Getty III’s single mother, after she divorced his father due to his uncontrollable addiction to drugs and alcohol. She’s basically on her own in her fight to get her son back, but the strength and determination she shows is just incredible. Williams plays an absolute blinder. You come for Christopher Plummer, but you stay for Michelle Williams.
You come for Christopher Plummer, but you stay for Michelle Williams
The one weakness to this film, however, is Mark Wahlberg. Why he was chosen to play a serious role in a serious film about a serious true story is bizarre. Of all the amazing actors, both well-known and amateur that could’ve made that role their own, Wahlberg is an odd choice. Unfortunately, his character is just Mark Wahlberg with glasses. Put a teddy bear next to him and it could’ve been Ted 3. Luckily, there’s enough great acting in the film to make up for the poor casting choice, but that almost makes his inability to act in a serious role stand out even more.
How infuriating then that Michelle Williams was paid less than 1% of what Wahlberg was given for the reshoots. If you wanted more proof that the gender pay gap still exists, there it is.
But, on the whole the film is worthy of its’ award nominations. The incredible performances by the two Plummer’s and Williams are next to none. The story itself is one that offers twists and turns all the way through. It makes you feel sympathy one minute and raw anger the next. It teaches you just how detrimental money can be to a person. And it’s a sobering reminder that money has always, and will always be the root of all evil.