*** out of ****
The Monuments Men
*** out of four
by David Vicari
I don't understand why The Monuments Men is getting negative reviews across the board, because it's actually a pretty good movie. Yes, it preaches a little too much about the importance of art, and no, it's not a blistering World War II action movie like John Frankenheimer's The Train (1964), and a race against the clock finale literally fades away, but it's still an engaging journey.
Based on a fascinating WWII true story, and chronicled in the book of the same name, The Monuments Men tells of a special team of allied soldiers gathered together to recover art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. The group is lead by Frank Stokes (George Clooney, who also directs) and his right hand men are James Granger (Matt Damon) and Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville).
The search for the art is a compelling one, with many interesting vignettes along the way. At one point, the team of soldiers are split into pairs and sent to search in different directions. The pairings of actors is inspired, Bill Murray with Bob Balaban and John Goodman with Jean Dujardin. Cate Blanchett has a key role as a French secretary, with many of her scenes with Damon, and there's also a catchy music score by Alexandre Desplat. So, trust me, there is much to like in The Monuments Men.