Ridley Scott is back again. He returns after last year’s dull Alien Covenant but a legendary back catalogue. This time he’s tackling the true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in Rome in 1973. John Paul is the grandson of the first big billionaire Jean Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), and when the kidnappers asked for a ransom of 17 million, Jean Paul refused to pay it. And so begins a chase to find him, with John Paul’s mother Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) working alongside the Italian police. Jean Paul has also tasked his negotiation aid, and former CIA operative, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to help find his grandson.
This film originally had Kevin Spacey in the role as Jean Paul Getty, however when he was accused of sexual harassment Ridley Scott decided to re-shoot all his scenes with Christopher Plummer. It’s a brave move, but Scott thought the film would be un-releasable with Spacey in the film. The re-shoots and editing trickery to get Plummer in the film instead of Spacey are obvious, and make the start of the film quite jarring. Plummer does a fine job like he always does, but there’s never really any power or excitement in his performance. It’s the same for the rest of the cast who are all present and correct, just never steal a scene. Mark Wahlberg does his best to be somewhat charismatic but in the end isn’t given the right material to express himself fully. Michelle Williams is better, and her character is about the only thing to get behind in this film.
The main problem with the movie arise not from Spacey’s replacement scenes, or some unmemorable acting, but from Scott’s direction. There is no real style in the film or flair – he’s simply telling the story of a particular part of Jean Paul Getty’s life. The film has this grey wash filter over it, that makes the film devoid of colour – and so it’s all very grim to look at. It’s shot basically, which is fine, but with the story being so slow I found myself losing interest from scene to scene. When you lose interest, you stop caring about the characters, so any peril or threat was lost when the film got to the more dramatic moments.
It is not a terrible film. Jean Paul Getty’s character is intriguing because of how hell bent he is of having power and money over anyone. Gail Harris is admirable, and the relationship between John Paul and his captor was quite cute at times. There is just no shine to the film, or any spirit in its execution. Scott should be praised for his ability to go back and remake a lot of the movie, though overall this will be a forgotten amongst his filmography.
Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?