All the Money in the World ★★½

It's a harsh and horrible thing to say, but the various controversies that impacted ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD may have been the best things for it. Send this out into the world either with Christopher Plummer cast as J Paul Getty from the start or with no frantic replacement of Kevin Spacey, and this is a pretty forgettable movie. Now, at least, it will be a footnote in an interesting story.

On the one hand, it's a thriller built around a waiting game, and the filmmakers never really figure out how to wing tension out of that. Maybe, perhaps, as a TV show, with room for subplots and the feeling that things are actually dragging out, it works, but the movie flattens that, and even the most lurid moments of the story never have the spark they should.

Mostly, though, it's a cast of real-life characters that seem bland. Getty may not actually be fascinating - he's too perfect a miser - but there's got to be some hook that could get the audience to at least wonder about him. Mark Wahlberg plays a tremendously bland ex-spy, and Michelle Williams makes Abigail Getty too much a movie character, all conscious hand-winging and bitter remarks in a transcontinental accent. These folks just never grab the audience's imagination, certainly not enough to make the irony of the finale actually interesting.