Director: Ridley Scott.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding this film, mostly to do with Kevin Spacey. But without wanting to go into too much detail about it all, it’s difficult to ignore and acknowledge Christopher Plummer’s part in all this. Being pulled in at last minute, in fact just over month before general release for a rushed 8 day reshoot that spurred even more controversy for Wahlberg resulting in him donating his entire $1.5million reshoot fee for the to the current Times Up campaign.
Ridley Scott tells the story of the famous kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the grandson of American industrialist billionaire and founder of Getty Oil, John Paul Getty. He was, during this time regarded as the richest American alive. The kidnapping happened back in 1973 by the Mafia in Rome and they demanded a $17million ransom for John Paul’s safe return. But, the richest American didn’t become rich by succumbing to such demands and this is what the film really picks on.
It’s based on John Pearson’s book, ‘Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty’ which also inspired A.J. Quinnell’s gruesome novel ‘Man on Fire’ back in 1980. Pearson being a famous author, has written autobiographies most notably about James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, the notorious Kray Twins, the Royals and the Churchills.
There’s detail of how the wealthy Grandfather dealt with the demands mostly from his own son and daughter-in-law but and there’s a serious dilemma here take would also pose risk to the rest of the young family. But the film questions and rarely answers the true motive behind J. Paul Getty’s behaviour. Is he really that cold-hearted, ruthless and money orientated? Or does he have good reason to respond the way he does?
Plummer does an astonishing performance for being pulled into the project at such last minute, even earning an Oscar nomination for the role but Plummer humbly claims to have already been previously considered for the role and he had met the real Getty a couple of times during the 60s.
Williams is equally brilliant as daughter-in-law and mother striving for the return for her son, giving an emotional yet powerful and stern performance.
Wahlberg plays the part of J. Fletcher Chase and isn’t just a fictitious character added for dramatic effect. He was a former intelligence agent recruited by Getty to handle and oversee the negotiations as cost effectively as possible.
Kidnapper Duris deserves a mention here and Charlie Plummer as the kidnapped grandson (no actually relation to Christopher Plummer) both add an interest dynamic to the story.
Scott’s style and tone for this film is very somber, creating a dark, grey and gloomy atmosphere throughout as if it was filmed through a constant filter. This reminded me of Spielberg’s Munich and it actually embosses the era and mood the film is set in.
Daniel Pemberton’s score astounds me! Is there no limit to this composer’s talents. I recently raved about him for Molly’s Game’s score and I’m a fan of both King Arthur and Gold’s score from last year. I can normally tell who is composing by the style or distinctive sound like Williams, Horner, Zimmer and even Jablonski among the many, but Pemberton seems to keep surprising me, especially here producing a very classical score with harpsichords, flutes and operatics with some parts being very European. It’s hard to pinpoint his influences behind the score but I think I hear Bach, Mozart and most definitely some Verdi in there. It’s not wholly classical with some tracks I can only describe as primitive which seems to be a signature of Pemberton’s style. I might have him sussed now!
It’s an engaging thriller, especially if you’re not familiar at all with the infamous kidnapping. Impressive performances all round especially with the unforeseen controversial set back but it’s far from Scott’s best work, whether that last month before release had an impact. We’ll never know.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 0