Sunday, May 31, 2009


It helps to not be well-read in watching a movie like Valkyrie. I had never heard of the aftermath of the attempt to kill Hitler by his own officers near the end of WWII. So this movie became an interesting thriller for me.

We see Colonel Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) stiffen at Hitler's orders way before he gets involved with other officers to plot Hitler's demise. In a very dramatic beginning, Stauffenberg is injured in a strafing by Allied Forces in Africa, and his hope of saving his troops dies next to him. This incident undoubtedly strengthens his resolve to save as many Germans as possible and, indeed, Germany by getting rid of Der Fuhrer.

The strength of this recreation of history by Bryan Singer is in the details. A pivotal moment, and a jarring one, is when we enter the communications room in Berlin, where the pounding of the manual typewriters sounds like the staccato of a machine gun. Just getting a glimpse of how things probably were in pre-computer age Germany during the war is worth the price of admission.

I have to say, though, that the most jarring moment of the movie is Tom Cruise. He gives an admirably restrained performance, but it's still Tom Cruise, and hard to believe him as a German officer, particularly when his American accent clashes with the Brits' among him.

In addition to Cruise (or in spite of him), the supporting cast is magnificent: Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, so many more, and they're definitely worth watching.

I enjoyed this film, even though I knew the ending. Thumb's up.


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