ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Emilio
As the film opens, John “Paul” Getty III (Charlie Plummer) is wandering the streets of Rome at night. He encounters some prostitutes, who notice that he’s really young, so they encourage him to go back to his family, even though he insists that he’s not a boy. As he’s wandering away, a van pulls up alongside the streets where he’s walking. Some men get out of the van and abduct Paul.
The film flashes back a few years to Paul as a child. His mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), and father, John Paul Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchan), are struggling to raise their children. John Jr. is estranged from his father, John Paul Getty Sr. (Christopher Plummer), the richest man in the world, up to that point. Gail convinces John Jr. to reestablish contact with his father, which he does by writing a letter. Sometime later, John Jr. gets a telegram from his father, urging John Jr. to come to Rome for a new job opportunity. The whole family makes the trip and meets Getty Sr. at his hotel room, where they find clothes hanging in the bathroom. Getty Sr. tells the family that he prefers to dry his own clothes rather than to spend some money on having the hotel staff do it.
The family moves to Rome where John Jr. begins working for the Getty Oil Company. Years later, this leads to John Jr. becoming addicted to drugs and sleeping with other women. Gail pursues a divorce from John Jr.
As Gail deals with Getty Sr. over the divorce, Gail wants child support, but Getty Sr. does not want Gail to have anything since everything comes from his money. Gail negotiates and eventually decides to forget about the child support so that she can have the divorce.
Cut to the present time.
The kidnappers want $17 million for Paul’s safe return. They first call Gail, but she tells them that she doesn’t have any money. They don’t believe her since her last name is Getty, so naturally, they believe she is rich. The main kidnapper, Cinquanta (Romain Duris), convinces Gail to ask Getty Sr. for the money. After news of the kidnapping reaches Getty Sr. in a live TV interview, he publicly declares that he won’t pay anything for Paul’s safe return, rationalizing that if he were to do so, he would have 14 kidnapped grandchildren instead of just one.
Gail leaves a message with Getty Sr.’s assistant, telling him that she’s on her way to see him. After reading the message, Getty Sr. tells his assistant to call in Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg). Chase is Getty Sr.’s top advisor, who also used to work for the CIA. Gail goes to Getty’s mansion and, while waiting, she meets Chase. Getty talks with Chase and tells him to find out what is happening with the kidnapping, but that Chase is not to pay anything for Paul’s return.
Gail and Chase begin to go over the details of the kidnapping. As weeks start to go by, the kidnappers begin to get anxious that the ransom is taking much longer than originally expected. The winter months start to arrive, and the compound where they are holding Paul is not fit for the cold. So, they contemplate moving him. Meanwhile, one day as Paul needs to go to the bathroom, one of the kidnappers takes him out to a grassy area outside. The kidnappers are supposed to shield their faces from Paul so that Paul cannot identify any of them. However, the kidnapper with Paul lifts his mask up, as Paul is a small distance away. But, the kidnapper forgets to put his mask back on fully, so Paul ends up seeing the kidnapper’s face. As the kidnapper prepares to kill Paul, a gunshot is heard.
Sometime later, Gail gets a call from the local authorities, telling her that they have found her son and asks her to come down and identify his dead body. At the morgue, Gail looks at the body and realizes that it is not Paul. Gail tells Chase that the body is that of an older man, later revealed to be the kidnapper whose face was seen by Paul. The kidnapper was killed because of his mistake. Chase has forensics done on the body, and the police find out that the dead kidnapper has had priors in the past. They also see a list of his known associates, which include Cinquanta. The local authorities track the kidnappers to the compound where they’ve been holding Paul. The authorities storm the base and kill three kidnappers. After looking throughout the building, they find out that Paul has been moved.
Cinquanta has sold Paul to a local crime family. The new crime family relocates Paul to another compound. There, Paul creates a fire in a nearby brush by throwing a small lit piece of paper out the window of the room he’s being held in. The kidnappers are celebrating in the compound, so as the fire burns, Paul uses an old piano to break through a boarded door in the back of the room he’s in. Paul escapes as the kidnappers are distracted. Cinquanta sees Paul as he’s escaping, but chooses not to tell the others, since he’s come to care for Paul.
Paul makes it to the road and flags down a car. The driver is a local police officer, who takes Paul to his home. There, Paul uses the phone to call his mother. Gail begins to talk to Paul, but before Paul can tell her where he’s at, the kidnappers arrive to take Paul back. It is unclear whether they just happened to find Paul or if the police officer tipped the kidnappers off to his location.
Since more weeks go by without the ransom being paid, the kidnappers decide to cut off Paul’s right ear and mail it to a newspaper. Gail again tries to reason with Getty, which works. He agrees to give her the money, only if she signs off all ownership of her children to him. She gives in, but later on, Gail and Chase find out that Getty is only going to give them $1 million since that’s the most that he can give and have it be tax-deductible. Chase continues to negotiate with Cinquanta.
Chase goes to see Getty, where he angrily tells Getty that all of the security that Getty has is because of him (Chase) and that there’s nothing that could stop Chase from harming Getty. Chase goes on to say that, despite, Getty having all the money in the world, he’s still just a man. After this exchange, Getty has a change of heart and wires Gail the full amount of the ransom, which has been negotiated down to $4 million. He has also voided the contract with Gail, choosing for her to continue to have authority over the children.
Gail and Chase follow the kidnappers’ instructions on the money drop. They drive on a desolate road until a stone cracks their car’s windshield, which is a sign to stop the vehicle. They get out and unload the suitcases containing the money onto the side of the road. Next, they are instructed to continue down the road until they reach a gas station, where they are to stop and wait at the pay phone for further instructions.
After Gail and Chase take off towards the gas station, some men come out to get the money. At the gas station, Gail and Chase are told that Paul is waiting down the road for them. However, instead of waiting where he was dropped off, Paul takes off towards the nearest town. When Gail and Chase arrive, they don’t see Paul, but they conclude he took off towards the town.
At the kidnappers’ hideout, they count the money, but helicopters soon arrive, and they deduce that Chase has betrayed them. The leader gives the order to find Paul and kill him. Paul goes through the empty, closed town, trying to get someone to help, but since it’s night, all the shops are closed, and people are hesitant to help Paul when he appeals to them for help. Gail and Chase arrive at the town and begin looking for Paul. Soon after them, the kidnappers, along with Cinquanta, arrive at the town too.
Chase spots Paul, but Paul runs away. Paul runs into one of the kidnappers, who almost kills Paul until Cinquanta knocks the man out and allows Paul to go. Gail and Chase get Paul out of the town, and they head back. As this is happening, Getty wakes up from sleep, sweating and rambling. He soon dies, staring at a painting he had recently bought for $1.5 million.
Getty has left his entire fortune to his grandchildren, which leaves Gail as the executor of the estate. She proceeds to sell all of the various pieces of art that Getty had collected.
An end title card states that most of the art Getty collected now resides in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.