Take an amazing true story of a mission to save Europe’s great artworks from the Nazis, add a great cast, including the likes of George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman, a decent budget and solid cinematography and you should get a thrilling tale of wartime derring-do. Clooney, who also directs and co-wrote the screenplay, may have been aiming at a sort of Oceans Eight Inglourious Art Basterds, but what he delivers is drab, uninvolving and emotionally flat as a canvas.
For a war movie it lacks great battle scenes. For a buddy movie it lacks character. Murray does deadpan Murray; Blanchett does a French accent; Gorgeous George sports a Clark Gable moustache. Also AWOL are the thrilling tension and team focus of great wartime capers, from The Dirty Dozen to Saving Private Ryan. Instead, Clooney’s cast split off for separate mini-missions. The tone too is scattershot, veering awkwardly from slapdash attempts at comedy to “people die, war is hell” moments of melodramatic mush.
As for the script? It’s tell rather than show, with Clooney literally resorting to lecturing us about the value of preserving culture, hammering home his point that art is worth dying for. Shame, because it’s a great premise for a movie or a TV series.
Next time Clooney erects a monument let’s hope it’s not this limp, because, in trying to do too much, The Monuments Men does too little, collapsing under the weight not of ambition, but mediocrity.
‘The Monuments Men’ Movie Times