“Who will make sure that the statue of David is still standing, or the Mona Lisa still smiling? Who will be their protectors?”
The answer is The Monuments Men, George Clooney’s latest flick, as well as the name of a middle aged bunch of art historians who spread out across Europe to save priceless artefacts from the Nazis. In a time of war, the allied armies ask “Who cares?” Clooney explains this in a particularly inspiring speech, “You can wipe out a generation of people, but if you destroy their achievements, it’s like they never existed.” This is perhaps the only truly heartfelt moment of a film which otherwise lacks the necessary energy and direction to make audiences actually care.
The opening scenes feel like a rehash of Ocean’s 11, as Clooney travels the world to recruit fellow art connoisseurs. The fact that he looks like the perfect combination of Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will also have you wondering when he’s going to yell “It belongs in a museum!” From here, the storyline is thrust forward at such an alarming pace that proper characterisation is never really established and audiences are left scratching their heads. The jokes also seem to fall flat, even out of the mouths of Bill Murray and John Goodman, which is hugely disappointing. Cate Blanchett is the only real saving grace, playing a Paris curator who oozes both intelligence and calculated sensuality.
Although The Monuments Men is fun and has moments of charm and amusement, everything from the script to the plot devices feel like missed opportunities. The film is a melting pot of ideas that lack direction in such an astounding way that one is left wondering in which genre the film can even be categorised.
The Monuments Men is in cinemas now.