All the Money in the World ★★

It’s impossible to write about All the Money in the World, Ridley Scott’s second film this year (after May’s Alien: Covenant), without mentioning the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolded in the 11th hour before the picture’s release. As originally shot and completed, this fictionalized account of events surrounding the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) featured Kevin Spacey as the teenager’s billionaire grandfather. When serious sexual allegations destroyed Spacey’s career, Scott made the unprecedented decision to recast Getty Sr. with 88-year-old pro Christopher Plummer (unrelated to his young co-star), reshoot scenes originally shot more than 6 months ago in a scant nine days and then recut the picture, all in less than a month. When this news broke, I presumed that Getty Sr. wouldn’t be in many scenes. I guessed wrong. Approximately 400 new shots featuring the elder Plummer were required, with the bulk of the audio having to be captured on set (and recorded at the same fidelity as the original material if the new and old sound was to merge properly). Obviously, none of this was an easy task, but the octogenarian actor and director both pulled it off, grounded by exceptional work by Michelle Williams, who’s the heart of the film playing young Getty III’s mother. Alas, if only someone could have removed Mark Wahlberg as former CIA man and negotiator Fletcher Chase, who engages in more of the fabricated heroics the actor is making a career of tastelessly injecting into historical-based tales. (At Boston CommonFenwaySouth Bay and in the suburbs.) ◆ 

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