Written by / 2/06/2014 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

GEORGE CLOONEY & MATT DAMON IN MONUMENTS MEN

year: 2014 rating: *
Sure, many are intrigued to watch a group of professionally educated art lovers attempting to save priceless paintings and sculptures from the Nazis during the Second World War, and yet there are a few others curious to witness, after over thirty years, an out of shape Bill Murray going through boot camp all over again...

Well that’s the initial flaw of George Clooney’s MONUMENTS MEN… What could have been a colorful first act – that being the gathering up and transforming of an “unlikely” group of civilians into soldiers – is all but rushed during the opening credit montage: thus followed by their quick training and soon enough, the plot’s underway...

The problem is we hardly even know these guys, and with a seemingly dangerous mission ahead, the unequipped yet idealistically intrepid characters should feel like old friends more than paper mache cutouts.

Bill Murray and Bob Balaban are two extremely unique, wonderfully quirky actors not only wasted but given a love/hate anti-camaraderie so forced and unfunny, much of the subliminal attention will depend on John Goodman and his French sidekick, a young man with more passion in his optimistic smile than the script offers point or purpose. 

Although the main “couple,” trumping even Cate Blanchett’s weak attempt as a love interest later on, is George Clooney’s mellow chieftain Frank Stokes, and Matt Damon as the buried-lead, James Granger… Clooney and Damon possess a sluggish comfort level of two workmates meeting for lunch after having devoured a large breakfast. But MEN aren’t the only problem…

The MONUMENTS fail to grab our attention as well. First off, if you counted how many rationalizations are made about saving artwork when so many humans are dying, you might get dizzy. With an exception of a few untimely deaths along the way, the artifacts are lazily gathered like an afternoon garage sale shopping spree. With all the running around, there's hardly any threat, in any direction... And speaking of direction: Half the time it’s difficult to tell where we are, what we’re doing, or what each mission entails.

You’ll hear a lot of comparisons with Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, another underdog in peril WW2 flick that, in this reviewer’s opinion, also wastes an ensemble cast of ragtag heroes. But at least that portrait had a scene-stealing villain: These fellas could have used someone more than an off-screen historical tyrant to keep them on their toes...

In fact, if it weren’t for the bombed-out buildings and sporadic gunfire, you’d forget there was even a war raging at all. And during one scene, Clooney's Frank looks at one of his men and says, "Got us a couple of trucks... Do I want to know how?" The answer is yes, we want to know how you got those trucks, and maybe we could have actually experienced it: That's called suspense... That's called a story.
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