Cert 15 132mins Stars 5
Director Ridley Scott has made his Citizen Kane with this exceptional real life kidnap thriller.
Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece was a scorching evisceration of the soul-rotting nature of obscene wealth. And Scott follows in the maestro’s footsteps with this fascinating and enthralling portrait of oil magnate, J. Paul Getty.
When his grandson is kidnapped in Italy, the wealthiest man in the world refuses to pay the $17m ransom, a staggering sum in 1973. This leaves Getty’s estranged and penniless former daughter-in-law to try and negotiate her son’s release.
Michelle Williams is terrific as Gail and deservedly receives top billing.
Adverse headlines were generated when original star Kevin Spacey became embroiled in the Hollywood sexual assault scandal. Even though filming had finished, his part was hurriedly and successfully reshot with the veteran Christopher Plummer replacing him in the role of Getty.
And it’s impossible to imagine Spacey could have been better than Plummer, who delivers a monstrous and intriguingly sympathetic figure.
It’s also important to not to underestimate the strength of Mark Wahlberg’s performance as a former CIA operative, employed by Getty to assist Gail.
Fittingly there is Rolls Royce craftsmanship in all departments, and we’re swept elegantly along by Scott’s accomplished driving of the story.
He confidently sculpts a typically fabulous visual texture as he moves fluidly from the US to Africa and Europe.
There’s a fist in the mouth ear cutting scene to rival the infamous one from Quentin Tarrantino’s Reservoir Dogs. And Scott has the confidence to slow the pace to create tension as the tock clicks down.
Scott, Plummer and Williams have all received prestigious Golden Globe nominations and a run to the Academy Awards is in their sights. Scott may go one better than Welles and win a long coveted and deserved best director Oscar, and that’s something all the money in the world can’t buy.