Starring: George Clooney, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban (Rated M 118 min).
The Monuments Men was directed by and stars one of the current genuine Hollywood stars with old school screen integrity, George Clooney. The formidable ladies man grey ghost has delivered a well crafted production on a little known exasperated recovery mission during World War 2.
A select small team known as Monuments Men were recruited by Uncle Sam in what turned out to be an interesting true study of serious art and its near demise. Unfortunately with destruction on his mind at the height of his maniacal rage across Europe, Adolf Hitler confiscated anything of value from the countries his troops invaded, this included priceless art from the best virtuosos across the land.
The team are comprised of various nationalities and age demographics, the thought of basic training is not something immediately suited to their individual skill set. The group travel behind enemy lines on a masterpiece national treasure hunt to locate, identify, then recover multiple paintings and sculptures. The risk of their mission involves closing time frames and spontaneous decisions on the run all in the name of art. This sounds much more exciting than it actually is, thankfully the reliable elite cast keep things interesting in a surprisingly dour film.
Indicating numerous comedy elements within the trailer is mostly false advertising for a chiefly passive historical drama of circumstance. Bill Murray and one of my favourite ever actors Bob Balaban (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) provide humorous quips to each other, while Mr Clooney is all sincere charm leading his company from the front like an Archival Oceans Eleven. In a nice touch for film buffs such as myself, playing his on screen father, Nick Clooney is the real life father of George.
Cate Blanchett only appears momentarily, however during those limited scenes, as one would expect, she gleams. Certainly not a boring film, there was just something about it that left me wanting more as the final credits rolled, possibly my expectations from over six months of delayed build up (when the film originally was to be released) left me hollow in my final thoughts.
This piece of history is still fascinating and how close many of the greatest works of art came to be burnt, crushed or affected during war crimes remains cinematically interesting but would be better suited to the History Channel.
Shane A. Bassett