Release Date: February 7, 2014
Director: George Clooney
Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter
Cast: George Clooeny, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Durardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnanyi, Holger Handtke, Michael Hofland, Zahary Baharov, Michael Brandner, Sam Hazeldine, Miles Jupp, Alexandre, Desplat, Diarmaid Mutagh
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 118 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures
Genre: Action, Biograpy, Drama
Language: Eglish, German, Russian, French
Country: USA, Germany
Budget: $70,000,000 (estimeated)
Considered one of the greatest treasure hunts in history, George Clooney is at the helm as director to tell the tale of 7 brave souls saving precious artifacts from destruction during World War II. It’s a noble cause that some, but not all can appreciate. What should one do when 1,000 years of culture is on the brink of extinction? Is it worth saving? Is it worth one man’s life? I say if a plausible plan is put in place yes. These are the questions asked in this loosely based (in my opinion) true story of 7 museum directors, curators, and historians assembled to save these artistic masterpieces. The questions are answered but not in a way that’s fulfilling. Art is priceless and there’s an abundance here. So I find it extremely necessary that this story be told. There’s so much culture out today that most appreciate not knowing its true origin, and it can be a shame. Though if the story is told it needs to be done correctly, and in this case it wasn’t. Instead of a film I can be proud of viewing, I’m left with a perspective, characters, and loss of time I don’t care for that ended up being very disappointing.
What’s amazing is how great things started out. From the first frame you can feel the intensity on the screen. Already I’m saying to myself possible Oscar contender. Shortly after that idea flies straight out the window into a brick wall head first with it’s mouth open. What was Clooney thinking? He’s a great actor and filmmaker but not here. When we meet our characters it’s a goofy introduction that was best fit for a Saturday morning cartoon. Yet he feels that the audience is supposed to take this seriously. It’s an embarrassment to say the least. As the cast is being assembled the plot develops like it had a good halftime and is ready for the 3rd quarter, but the rest of the team doesn’t feel that way. After a number of timeline jumps (which eventually served no purpose), it takes the team 10 months to go into action. Why so long since it’s so important is beyond me? I wish Clooney would have told us but he didn’t.
Deep into the story nothing illuminates at all. It’s all a dull bore that begging me to fall asleep. Instead of the characters treating this like a life or death situation, with danger at every turn they treat their basic training like a field day activity in grade school. Some of the characters might as well had twinkies in both hands instead of rifles. This is a war drama or at least was marketed that way. Though there was basically no action at all. I’m not expecting a Saving Private Ryan tone with bullets and limbs raining like cats and dogs, but a hint of it would’ve been great. That would’ve given me an idea of why they’re mission was so dangerous and superiors considered outlandish. There was no sense of urgency from our so called heroes. Everyone acted as if the war was over and they could take they’re sweet time rounding up the leftovers. The danger was nonexistent but replaced with characters fumbling over each other realizing they shot themselves in the foot by not taking training too seriously. Now if this is really the way their quest went down I have no complaints but a story spanned over a few years Clooney missed the highpoints and gave us fillers for time. There’s a few scenes where Clooney’s character is monologing, trying to motivate the team but it just fell flat and had no real inspiration. Clooney tries here but he failed. I caught Bill Murray starring off in space as if a light bulb is going off and he’s now going to fulfill his destiny, but looks more like he can’t help himself from an unfortunate medical condition. I don’t know the real heroes in this story but Clooney made them out to be the three stooges with guns, with an insight of art assuming their real professionals. Why do they even care about the art besides their occupational title? It’s never told.
There are two key scenes and/or characters that did stand out to me in a positive way. One of the soldiers passes but the editing put together while his time was fading was a pleasure. I really felt like his last words would float over an ocean to a loved one like a poem in the spring time. Even though it was a written letter it moved me. Another great note is the character claire (Cate Blanchett) her performance was great and a memorable one. She’s a very strong minded individual that takes not shit! Her subplot which ended up being the meat and potatoes for story paid off and the film got really interesting after her attempt of love. Everything started to come together at this point and my interest raised back to my initial expectations of a potential Oscar contender. Unfortunately it was too late to breathe fresh air back into the film and I was pretty much already clocked out. The ending was a respectful one answering the question of “Was it all worth it?” and the sentimental value of it all was apparent. It’s just too bad the whole film couldn’t take that tone.
I remember this film was supposed to be realesed toward the end of 2013 for potential Oscar buzz, but was delayed until this year because the effects weren’t done in time. My questions is what effects did they mean? Was this an alternate cut for the masses because their reason for delay seems like an excuse due to a poor film? January was already filled with mostly disastrous entertainment so the first week in February was just the next available spot. Don’t get me wrong George Clooney Is a fantastic entertainer in front and behind the camera, but we all have a bad day at the office and it shows here. This film could’ve been one for the ages and talked amongst by many. This is unfortunately a missed opportunity that will be forgotten and that may not be a bad thing.