The Monuments Men is a film that can be summed up in one sentence, and really should be meant to play out equally succinctly but, unfortunately, is allowed by its director and lead actor, George Clooney, to drag out for a mind-numbing two hours.
Under the order from President Franklin D Roosevelt, art experts Frank Stokes (George Clooney) and James Granger (Matt Damon) spend the second half of the Second World War going from place to place with a team of like-minded individuals, posing as soldiers, to rescue masterpiece works of art which have been stolen by the Nazis, sometimes for private collections and, later, to be destroyed once they lose the war.
Rather than all heading off in the same direction, they pair up, so Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) goes off with Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) and Walter Garfield (John Goodman), and so on. It’s like Scooby Doo meets World War II! And about as intellectually stimulating, although with Nazis replacing the ghosts. The only one on his own is Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) who wants to head up to Bruges to keep guard over the Madonna And Child statue, as he’s loved that piece since he was a boy, so holds a real affinity for it.
Also in the cast, French lady Claire (Cate Blanchett) works for Nazi head Viktor Stahl (Justus von Dohnányi), and they have a mutual hatred, and that’s about it. There’s a great deal of talent in the cast but not a single person does anything but phone it in.
The Monuments Men left me feeling that this is a film which is mostly pointless, it’s devoid of the levity and quips it requires, and it really drags, generally because we get the idea about what they’re doing first time round, but when they discover that there’s a clutch of treasure in one mine, rather than sum up the fact there’s the same thing in all the others, we have to waste time going round with them, and seeing the same thing over and over.
And if you want to see Bill Murray in a film where he does that, but does it so much better, you need to watch Groundhog Day.
Running time: 118 minutes
Released: February 14th 2014
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Hawk Scope)
Director: George Clooney
Producers: George Clooney and Grant Heslov
Screenplay: George Clooney and Grant Heslov (based on the book by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter)
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Frank Stokes: George Clooney
James Granger: Matt Damon
Richard Campbell: Bill Murray
Claire Simone: Cate Blanchett
Walter Garfield: John Goodman
Jean Claude Clermont: Jean Dujardin
Donald Jeffries: Hugh Bonneville
Preston Savitz: Bob Balaban
Sam Epstein: Dimitri Leonidas
Viktor Stahl: Justus von Dohnányi
Colonel Wegner: Holger Handtke
Priest (Claude): Michael Hofland
Commander Elya: Zahary Baharov
Dentist: Michael Brandner
Colonel Langton: Sam Hazeldine
Major Feilding: Miles Jupp
Emile: Alexandre Desplat
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.