All The Money In The World Is A Mirror Of Society

all the money in the world

I’d never trade my old girl
For all the money in the world.
I’d never trade my daughter Toya
For all the money in the world.
I’d never trade my only boy
For all the money in the world.
I put my last name first!

– Rick Ross

These lyrics by rapper Rick Ross in his aptly titled song All The Money In The World do not apply to the world’s wealthiest people when it comes to negotiations. Everything has a price. Everything is negotiable. This includes people, even family members.
In the United States, we have just passed a tax bill where 83% of the tax savings goes to the top 1% of the population. This is against the backdrop of income inequality becoming such a pervasive problem in one of the world’s richest countries, that the UN is sending observers to specific states to document the immense poverty located within them. All of this is happening under the leadership of a supposedly billionaire President whose history is one of dealings where he will not pay lawyers, employees and anyone else after they have completed the work they were contracted to do.

All The Money In The World

From Director and Producer Ridley Scott and written by David Scarpa, All The Money In The World stars Michele Williams. Christopher Plummer and Mark Wahlberg. It’s the story of the 1973 kidnapping in Italy of the grandson of oil tycoon and the world’s first billionaire J. Paul Getty played by Plummer who is up for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Plummer is larger than life as the richest man in the history of the world, in a part originally played by Kevin Spacey who had to be replaced and whose scenes had to be reshot due to multiple allegations of sexual impropriety. Though he is in the film for more screen time, Plummer’s performance is similar to that of Robert De Niro playing Al Capone in The Untouchables. The Getty character consumes and overwhelms almost every scene.

With that being said, the star of All The Money In The World is Williams who plays Getty’s estranged daughter in law and the mother of the kidnapped boy whose father (J. Paul Getty’s son) she divorced after he suffered from drug addiction and infidelity. Williams’ character is the antithesis of the eldest Getty. She cares not about money (only asking for child support and custody of their children in the divorce from her husband), and views the ransom asked for her son as non negotiable. She is every bit the concerned mother of a kidnapped boy, and also every bit the shrewd negotiator that J. Paul is although with different motivations. She is quick to point out that she is a Getty in name only, and while symbolic, she is nothing like the patriarch that Plummer brilliantly plays. Williams is up for a Best Actress Golden Globe for the role and deservedly so. She is how we would expect our mother’s to react if we were kidnapped.

Wahlberg plays Fletcher Chase, the billionaire Getty’s former CIA agent turned negotiator and fixer. He acts as a bridge between the Williams and Plummer characters both in the movie as the Getty’s authorized hostage negotiator and symbolically as someone who is a loyal employee to Getty that eventually comes around to seeing thing Williams’ way being that everything does not and should not have a price. While his part is important, Wahlberg is just there. His character is not as impassioned as Williams’ is looking for her kidnapped son nor is it as magnanimously detached as Plummer’s who is simply looking for a win at all costs.

The movie is actually a period piece touching on Getty’s accumulation of wealth through exploration of the oil fields of Saudi Arabia in the 40s, his invention of the supertanker in the 50s, his achievement of billionaire status with the announcement of the oil embargo in the 70s, and his acquisition of fine art throughout the entire time making him the world’s largest collector of masterpieces. The costumes are reflective of the time, but the press (particularly the paparazzi) reveal roots that are reflective today.

The warping and twisting of humanity by wealth is the constant theme throughout All The Money In The World. When Plummer is asked by the press what he would pay for his kidnapped grandson, his simple reply is nothing believing that most things are not worth what their stated price is. A communist group, believed to be responsible for the kidnapping, is told by Wahlberg in negotiations that they are supposed to be above money. Their leader’s response is that no one is above money. A puzzled Williams, recognizing that Wahlberg’s character is a spy who doesn’t carry a gun, asks him why he does not. His response is that guns ruin the line of suits and that guns are for people without money. The press, who are excoriated throughout the film, offer Williams 50,000 dollars to publish the news of the cutting off of her son’s ear by the kidnappers to which she responds, “But it’s my son’s ear.” Finally, towards the end of the movie when William’s once again one ups the eldest Getty in the securing of the ransom for her son (which started at 17 million and was negotiated down to 3.3 million), Wahlberg states that he is beginning to understand which makes men like him think. Plummer’s response is that he could not possibly even begin to understand what makes men like him tick.

The only problem with the film is the kidnapper’s storyline. They steal the youngest Getty off the streets of Rome and ask for a 17 million dollar ransom, but are somehow portrayed as good guys with one of them even seeming to help the kidnapped youngster when he is sold to Mafia people brokers who then cut off his ear to speed up negotiations. In a movie whose theme is about the ability of money to corrupt all people, the benevolent kidnapper does not seem to fit and is not corroborated by the actual story. Still, this movie is fantastic and a must see for those who love biopics, period pieces and issues of family. You can’t help leaving this film thinking this is a reflection of what is happening currently in society and particularly our country.



KTB Editors

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