The Monuments Men

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Monuments Men [2014]

Action | Biography | Drama | (118 min) [12A]

With a fully locked and loaded magazine of acting thoroughbreds, this is one war film that vaguely harks back to the line-up format of cult classics such as Kelly’s Heroes or The Dirty Dozen.

This film, directed by and starring George Clooney attempts to honour the actions of the real Monuments Men, a largely forgotten specialist unit put together during the Second World War, with the sole purpose of retrieving millions of stolen artefacts before being destroyed by the retreating Nazis.

For those seeking the thrill of armchair combat scenes this probably won’t make the grade. This is a film that offers the viewer something with a little bit more integrity, as it attempts to follow the small band of soldiers who are not only showing signs of beginning to creak with age, but also openly discuss the futility of war and even the value of their own mission in relation to losing comrades.

Clooney, plays Lt Frank Stokes, the all American leader of a small team of art experts from both sides of the pond, who are recruited to take on the mammoth task of saving some of Europe’s most valuable cultural artefacts, which are under constant threat from Allied bombardment as they advance towards Berlin and also from the Nazi’s who are ordered to destroy the evidence rather than leave it behind for the enemy.

Hugh Bonneville really fly’s the flag for Britain in this film. He plays Donald Jeffries a tragic yet heroic character, given a second chance by his old friend Stokes. He is joined by Lt James Granger (Matt Damon) Sergeant Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett) Sgt Walter Garfield (John Goodman) Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) Private Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Private Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas).

Bill Murray fans will enjoy his rare solemn performance which at times throughout the film indicate the underlying anti-war message. John Goodman works his usual magic and seems to hold the film together with his gentle giant persona and witty one liners. Matt Damon seems restrained compared to his Saving Private Ryan or Bourne performance and Cate Blanchett may need to brush up on her French accent for future Parisian museum curator roles.

In summary this film is lost somewhere between Hollywood adaptation and history essay. This should not however deter you from going to see a well shot, relatively well cast film with a number of scenes that can only be described as lovely. This charmingly told tale will appeal to the inner Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.

 4/5 stars  

Matt Roberts. (Film in Afan Project Coordinator)


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