George Clooney’s big old-fashioned WWII adventure pic is pretty lousy. Not because it’s old-fashioned moviemaking, but because it’s bad old-fashioned moviemaking.* The motivating idea isn’t so much its fascinating story of art experts buddied up as a military unit and going off to Europe to search out & defend Western art treasures at war’s end. No, it’s more like Clooney ‘jonesing’ to direct & star in a middle-aged THE GREAT ESCAPE/’64. But like so much of his work, as actor as well as director, everyone on screen is having all the fun while the audience never gets past the celebrity rope line. Poor composer Alexander Desplat, charged with finding a jaunty theme to match Elmer Bernstein’s famous GREAT ESCAPE tag, at least has the decency to let some embarrassment show. Something you can’t say about Bill Murray’s distracting self-indulgence; the disposable use of top-billed foreign-born co-stars; camera set-ups you can't edit into a simple apartment conversation; or Clooney’s galling filch from the end of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN/’98 so he can give his pop a cornball cameo.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Burt Lancaster & Paul Scofield burn up the screen covering similar terroir in John Frankenheimer’s assured WWII nail-biter THE TRAIN/’64.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Clooney’s other directorial efforts (IDES OF MARCH/’11; LEATHERHEADS/’08; GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK/’05; CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND/’02), display lots of ambition & good intentions, but who grades on effort & Hollywood Glamour? (LOL)