The Monuments Men is the latest film directed/written/produced and led by George Clooney and it’s a real disappointment. It’s not that the film is a complete stinker, but veteran on/off screen talent George Clooney does very little with the material, delivering perhaps the first true bore of 2014, with no help from his star-studded supporting cast of Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman and Bill Murray. The Monuments Men is a film by a director that knows what kind of film that he wants to make, but never actually ends up making it.
It’s World War II. The Americans are at war with the Germans and an unlikely platoon of men (George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray) are given the task to rescue and recover stolen art that was taken by the Nazis. If they don’t save these artifacts then they could be lost forever or even worse, destroyed at the hands of Hitler and his army.
Their goal is to infiltrate and save these precious pieces of art before it’s too late.
George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men sounds exactly like something that Clooney and his frequent producer Grant Heslov would make. And it sounds like the kind of film that he’d make well and possibly even earn a few Oscar nominations for. Clooney has been mostly known for his on-screen talent, but the man has done some strong work behind the lens as well.
And with a cast this big, one can only imagine how Clooney would let such an inspiring story slip through his fingers and dropped onto cinemas nationwide.
The Monuments Men is a film that simply exists. That’s it. There’s absolutely nothing special about it, besides the fact that it’ll get the true story out there and talked about. As a film, it bores and slugs on by, with Clooney leading the film with one of his most unengaged performances yet and Matt Damon trying his best to keep his eyes open long enough to deliver an entire line.
John Goodman and Bill Murray manage their time a little better, constantly dropping subtle jokes to keep the film’s pulse from flat lining completely. But two good performances don’t make for a great film or even a good one.
And that’s the biggest problem that The Monuments Men faces. It’s not a bad film. It really isn’t. Clooney knows how to wield a camera and follow a plot outline from point A to point B. But he just doesn’t seem to care much about connecting the points with emotion. Perhaps there’s a cut of this film somewhere that reinserts all of the life into the lifeless picture or perhaps Clooney lost his direction early on and never bothered to find it.
There are moments where the film almost feels like it’s coming together, but those moments are dashed out as the film switches locations or characters on the fly and forces on many moments of voice over instead of actually showing the progress being made.
This robs the film of its heart and purpose and makes one wish that they were just watching an hour documentary on the History Channel versus paying an upward of fifteen dollars on a movie ticket and then spare change on soda and popcorn.
The Monuments Men is proof that not all talented actors can hit one out of the park when they try to direct and also that not every story can be turned into cinematic gold if there’s no follow through. The story which the film is based upon is fine and more than enough to translate to a film full of dynamic and purpose, questioning not just the acts of war, but just how important art and culture are to our core values and beliefs. But most of that is lost in a script without focus, direction and detail.
Everything is glossed over and made to feel less important than it rightfully should and that’s exactly why The Monuments Men might get by as an alright time-waster, but nothing more. Normally, that would be okay, but not with the talent involved both in front of and behind the camera. This should have been so much better and so much more, but it isn’t and that’s the real shame.
The Monuments Men – 6.5/10