George Clooney directs, writes, produces and acts in this WW2 art heist, adapted from true-story novel The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, by Robert M. Edsel.
Bringing together an all-star cast of Clooney’s friends – Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville, the tale of a squadron whose mission it is to recover art stolen by Hitler, should be Oscar gold. But, sadly Clooney’s awards vehicle has been met with a wave of damning criticism from Berlin, where it premiered, and now it opens at a time where cinephiles have their pick of the best of the season, so it’s doubtful it’ll make much of a splash.
Anyhow, on a fair playing field, The Monuments Men still has it’s moments, and isn’t entirely the dull ride it’s been made out to be. The actors are the main draw, showing off some natural chemistry and pulling out a few laughs from the tepid script. If anything is to be said of these fine actors, it’s that they just don’t look interested enough in saving the art – are any of them art lovers in real life? We are supposed to believe that they would give their lives for these monuments, but they suspiciously spend no time at all talking about their love of art.
The story is still interesting, perfectly coinciding with the many recent news articles about recovered works that had been lost for years. However, although intriguing on paper, the film never becomes the fast-paced action-packed thriller it could (should) have been, instead opting for slow drama showing their discovery.
If you can cope with a film that shows the Americans as the winners of the war and kills off everyone else, then you’ll probably be satisfied with this run-of-the-mill heist. George Clooney may of convinced everyone he was a good writer/director with The Ides of March (2011), which was nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar, but this film is disappointingly average. Keep your expectations low.