All the Money in the World ★½

Scott makes a point of telling us he thinks in images: again and again, in interviews, it's all about the storyboards, he says, which in practical terms enables him to plan each project meticulously (one or two movies a year at 80 years old) and in marketing terms sells him as a kind of hands-on visionary ("From the director of The Director's Cut of...").

Curious, then, that Scott's films tend not to tell their stories in or through images. Save for that one shot of Getty flailing on his porch as a thousand issues of the same newspaper are swept around him by the wind, All the Money in the World is remarkably thin when it comes to visually compelling storytelling. Even the grisly image of a severed ear is non-committal: neither gruesome by suggestion nor powerful through being seen. Scott kind of shows it and he doesn't show it. Worse, it's meant to raise the stakes (these new guys will do anything for their money!), but the film never really establishes a properly dramatic connection between its characters and their arcs. Everything just kind of happens, and trundles along, without any of the units finding resonance with one another. (I did wonder if this was meant to be the point, that with such vast amounts of wealth involved the value of lives, of people as characters in a drama, is rendered meaningless.)

Not every composition needs to be symbolically loaded (what I mean when I suggest a film like Blade Runner 2049 'thematises' its ideas). But there's a great deal of imagery here that smacks of a director who believes too much in the strength of his material—as if all Scott needed to do was show up and shoot the thing how he'd envisaged it on paper. Perhaps he did.