Expectation is everything, isn’t it?
I was really looking forward to this movie. I love World War II movies. I love art. The premise of FDR giving a small team the mission to save the art that stolen and destroyed by the Nazis? And how can you not love this cast? Matt Damon and George Clooney back together again?? John Goodman? Bill Murray? Cate Blanchett?
What could go wrong?
All the elements were there but the structure and pace of movie never take advantage of them all. There were to many vignette pieces, not enough time where the whole team was together. But my biggest complaint is that Clooney failed to structure the story to take advantage of the three HUGE tension points he had at his disposal.
There was the race to recapture the art from the Nazis before they destroyed it. There was the race to recapture the art before the Russians caught it because they were NOT returning it to the rightful owners. There was the race to get the information that Cate Blanchett’s character Claire Simon had and her distrust of every government – particularly the United States.
Speaking about the character Claire Simon – Clooney did a great job setting her up to be a great anti-hero particularly with her relationship with the Nazis when they occupied Paris. Then he abandons this storyline altogether. You never really feel the conflict inside Claire herself as she is arrested as a conspirator with the Nazis. All of that adds up to a film that had all the ingredients for a deep, rich storyline along the lines of Dirty Dozen.
That’s not to say that The Monuments Men is a bad movie. Far from it. There is enough humor to keep you going and two incredible scenes that against the backdrop of a better told story would have really stood out. I’m talking about the “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” scene and Clooney introducing his young private to the self-portrait of Rembrandt.
It’s an average movie. Which isn’t an insult but it can’t be a compliment either. I enjoyed watching it but probably it didn’t crack my all-time favorite list either.