“Valkyrie” could be the continuation of Tom Cruise’s comeback that began in his hysterical supporting role as a chubby, balding film exec in “Tropic Thunder.”
Its plot, about the last known assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler during World War II, is a plot that doesn’t seem like it can support its own weight until it does.
The tumultuous journey of rotating release dates and studios backing the film left many wondering if “Valkyrie” would ever reach the public eye. But, finally, it has, and it turns out it was a strong movie after all.
“Valkyrie” is an action thriller that holds its suspense throughout the entirety of the film, even though every viewer is armed with the clandestine knowledge that Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg’s (Cruise) attempt to kill Hitler is unsuccessful. It’s hard not to hold your breath tightly locked inside your chest as the movie reaches its climax and wish that, for once, history was wrong about how things ended.
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie (written by) and Nathan Alexander (written by)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branaugh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson
Seen at: AMC Loews Boston Common
Running time: 120 minutes
One of the most interesting aspects of the film was how director Bryan Singer handled incorporating the character of Adolph Hitler into the film. Other than in “Indiana Jones and the last Crusade” and “Little Nicky,” Hitler is a physical presence not often scene in modern films. What Singer started to do, and which would have been so much more effective had he been able to continue it through the entirety of the movie, was only film David Bamber, who plays Hitler with chilling accuracy in the film, from behind. This allowed Singer to show the horror and awe that the Nazis felt before their Fuhrer without giving a face in the movie to a face that will be printed in history text books well into the future. However, Singer didn’t, and Hitler became a fictional character instead of a permeating historical memory.
The biggest flaw with the film was the dialogue. Though all the characters are supposed to be speaking in German, they speak English throughout the entirety of the film. This is supposed to be solved neatly at the beginning of the film when the title, “Valkyrie,” and opening text is shown in German and then shifts to be in English. Even Cruise opens out the film speaking in German and then dubbing over himself in English, until he finally he is only speaking in English. It’s a great idea, but instead of having just one English accent, Cruise speaks in a blunt American accent, Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branaugh talk with a British twang, and Hitler and his lackey’s all talk with hints of German in their voice. Minor details, but the dialect messed with the continuity of the film and became down right annoying and distracting.
Cruise, however, was enthralling as von Stauffenberg, a German who, from the beginning, is against everything Hitler stands for. Stauffenberg shows himself to be an intriguing historical figure that is rarely touched upon in World War II history and one that very nearly could have ended that war and seized control of Germany in the aftermath of Hitler’s assassination.
It is in the , directed by Newton Thomas Sigel, that “Valkyrie” really shines. The usage of grey, black and white hues make the film look very drastic and bleak, but the incorporation of red into the film, like in the Nazi flags, makes the film very intriguing to watch visually. The cinematography is stunning, especially during a show of the siege of Berlin when Stauffenberg’s soldiers march into a government building through a courtyard filled with Nazi flags.
A lot of effort went in to making “Valkyrie” a near-flawless film, and the effort shows. From its acting to visuals to historic significance, “Valkyrie” is engaging on all ends. Though it may not be the most heart-warming movie to be released Christmas day, it is the perfect movie for Oscar season.