Entertainment » Movies

Valkyrie

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Thursday Dec 25, 2008
Tom Cruise in "Valkyrie"
Tom Cruise in "Valkyrie"  

There's quite a bit to respect about "Valkyrie," the Bryan Singer/Tom Cruise vehicle that, according to the rumor mill, was likely to run roughshod over the recent revitalization of Cruise's Hollywood stock post-"Tropic Thunder." It's not the blockbuster that its producers obviously hoped it'd be - but it's historically apt and serves to moderate the worldwide derision heaped upon the German nation vis-?-vis World War II. In other words, it's important, if somewhat lackluster; and for those who appreciate intrigue and suspense, it's a relatively worthy film.

Singer concentrates on the twenty-fifty attempt on Adolf Hitler's life from within his own ranks, courtesy of a lieutenant-colonel in the Third Reich named Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise), whose military stint in Afrida on behalf of Hitler's cause for world domination is cut short by an Allied attack that kills most of his men and robs von Stauferberg of one of his eyes, his right hand, and a few fingers on his left. Pissed off, he decides to join a group of German notables - both military and civilian - in their quest to assassinate the F?hrer. The plot is brought down partially by providence, and partially by cowardice on behalf of the plot's leaders - General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy) and his more silent partner General Friedrich Fromm (Tom Wilkinson).

Strangely enough, what's truly missing from the story is a motive. It's never made clear why von Stauffenberg hates the Third Reich so much. Clearly, there are enough valid reasons - but the script leaves his motive vague. That robs the picture of much-needed tension; there doesn't seem to be much at risk for the protagonist aside from protecting his family; and frankly, men whose primary interest is in protecting their family don't make good saboteurs. Cruise is actually quite good in the role; it's a joy to see him back onscreen. And the supporting cast is excellent: Nighy and Wilkinson are tastefully good, and smaller roles by Kenneth Branagh and Eddie Izzard are moderately interesting and well-performed. I really got more joy out of Terence Stamp's performance as a highly principled German civilian who seems more interested in bringing Hitler down to save his country's name in the eyes of posterity.

There are moments when Bryan Singer shines; the watershed moment in the conspiracy, when von Stauffenberg must attempt the assassination, is wonderfully suspenseful. And it's a fairly wild ride following that moment for about forty minutes, as the coup rises, then falls, on the illusion of Hitler's death. It suggests that, had this group of superbly intelligent men not bungled their plan so badly, the world might be a different place today. That's not a bad idea to explore - it's just a shame that the film doesn't quite live up to that premise.

Valkyrie

Info

Runtime :: 120 mins
Release Date :: Dec 25, 2008
Language :: English, German
Country :: United States



David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.


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