Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Monuments Men

In a prequel of sorts to the Oceans 11 series, a glib art historian (George Clooney) assembles an team of architects, artists, and museum directors (Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban) to undergo special forces training and enter the European Theater in an effort to retrieve art stolen by the Nazis, with their ace in the hole being a Resistance member (Cate Blanchett) who once served as secretary to a top looting officer. For such surefire plot material, the kind which has lent to the success of dozens of similar war features, The Monuments Men is a perplexing and bumbling disaster on all accounts in the hands of director Clooney, who adapted Robert Edsel and Bret Witter's historical novel with his producing partner Grant Heslov. Never knowing exactly what pace to use or tone to set, Clooney assembles a charismatic team of stars and expects them keep his toothless, skittish, PG-rated war dud afloat. If ever an art preservation campaign again arises in the course of modern warfare, instead of being salvaged as a representation of human good, The Monuments Men would prove itself more useful by being melted down for parts.