Release Date: December 25, 2017
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: David Scarpa, John Pearson
Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Charlie Shotwell, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi, Giuseppe Bonifati, Nicolas Vaporidis, Andrea Piedimonte Bodini, Guglielmo Favilla, Nicola Di Chio, Adele Tirante, Alessandra Roca, Francesca Inaudi, Stacy Martin, Maya Kelly, Kit Cranston, Ginevra Migliore, Francesco Bomenuto, Clive Wood, David Brooks, Cherise Silvestri, Roy McCrerey, Anna Devlin
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes
Production Company: Imperative Entertainment, RedRum Films, Scott Free Productions, TriStar Productions
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
I have so many mixed feelings about director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus, Exodus Gods, and Kings). He's made some great films over the years but has also put out a few duds. When he's attached to something now, I'd say it's safe to go in with low expectations (which is wise for any film), and you'll most likely be surprised. Now he's telling the story based on true events of a devoted mother doing all to get her kidnapped son back in the 1970's.
Towards the end of the film, it admits that some portions of the story are true, and others are made up only for dramatic effect, which could be done for two reasons. One is because the writers may not have all the facts or two they just want to make the story more interesting. As a viewer, I'm bothered by both notions, though I agree all the facts may not be provided but some are easily at anyone's disposal to verify, and Scott didn't do that here claiming Jean Paul Getty is the richest man in history. This is false, with that title belonging to Mansa Musa from Mali, but that credit wasn’t given to a Black man, as credit wasn’t given to Black men and women in his past film of Exodus Gods, and Kings. I’m noticing a pattern here.
Besides that, the film was able to keep my attention and keep me guessing on how the events would turn out, and they were all quite interesting. The performances for the entire cast were as good as you'd hope they'd be especially from the addition of Christopher Plummer was Jean Paul Getty. There was a casting switch between himself and Kevin Spacey just many weeks before the release, and given the amount of screen time Plummer had during the film, I’m nothing short of impressed with the seamless job the entire production did on bringing him in.
This is a period piece, and the set designs and costumes do the film justice, and pulls you into a world you may not have known. Which is daily life of the filthy rich, and how they get along with the world around them. Going into the film I was interested in seeing why Paul Getty wouldn't pay the ransom for his son being kidnapped. And since this was a question raised during all the marketing, the film did an excellent job of answering that question which is the main reason I was intrigued by the film in the beginning.
There's a large number of time lapses, and subtitles that flood the film towards the start of the film, that was a distraction, but fortunately, that didn't take up too much of the rest of the film when things got going in the second act. Though while this isn't just another recap of events of a true story of kidnapping, the film did wonders on giving you multiple perspectives of everyone involved in this dilemma. You'll get to see the kidnapped, the kidnappers, the grieving mother, Paul Getty's, other influential figures, and the world's view of everything going on. The pacing to balance it all was spot on, and there were no moments that were weaker than the rest. It was a well put together piece of work that I wouldn't beg you to go see, but would be confident that your experience would be a positive one.
There were moments of doubt, rage, sincerity, luck, and love poured all over the film to the point that even if you knew the outcome, it would still have you guessing. And while it wasn't my favorite Ridley Scott film, I walked away pleased with what I witnessed and learned.