In Brief: This one opens Christmas Day. A kidnapping biopic that ends up kidnapping too much of your time.
Director Ridley Scott’s film is based on part of John Pearson’s book about billionaire J. Paul Getty’s family and the tragedies that family endured. The focus is the part of the book dealing with the 1973 kidnapping of Getty’s grandson J. Paul Getty III. Getty refused to pay the $17 million ransom saying he has 14 grandchildren and it would place them in danger as well.
Scott’s movie and David Scarpa’s (2008’s The Day the Earth Stood Still) screenplay contends — and so does history — the reason is because Getty was a miser and had no love for anything other than money.
Getty is played by Christopher Plummer. Michelle Williams does his daughter-in-law Abigail and Mark Wahlberg is the Getty security guy assigned to help her get the kid back. They have very little to do for the film’s 2:15 except look worried and rush here and there from time to time to look more worried.
The only interesting work in the film is that of Plummer who’s getting accolades and nominations for his performance. That’s maybe the most impressive aspect of the movie. It all swirls around the Kevin Spacey controversy and his quick replacement by Plummer. It might actually help this drawn out real-life based drama sell more tickets.
Plummer — by the way — looks a whole lot more like billionaire J. Paul Getty than Spacey.
Knowing Plummer replaced Spacey will have many of you trying to find long shots and scenes with Getty’s back to the camera that are actually Spacey and not Plummer. That’s much a much more interesting exercise than trying to wade through a film that has zero tension and is half-an-hour too long.
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Michelle Willams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Timothy Hutton, Romain Duris
Rated R for mature themes, violence and language. Biopics sometimes work. Sometimes they don’t. This one didn’t need to be over two-hours long to be effective. The length does it in. Give it a 2 1/2 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
Got a movie suggestion or comment? Click here to email him.