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Valkyrie (2009) Director Bryan Singer 1 February 2009

Posted by jordanfarley in Uncategorized.
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Valkyrie is yet another true story (I seem to have been seeing a lot of those recently), this time about the failed assassination attempt of Adolf Hitler by members of his own German army who had become disillusioned with the Fuhrer. Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg who we are introduced to in Afica where he looses a hand and an eye in an air attack by British forces. When he awakes he is put in contact with a group of dissidents, led by Terence Stamp, many of whom are former political figures in Germany or high up in the armed forces, who want to overthrow Hitler and negotiate a peace with the allies. Stauffenberg comes up with the plan to use the German armies own operation Valkyrie, where they would take control of Germany in the event Hitler was killed in a coup, to take power, though the mechanics of the plan are surprisingly complicated for this unashamed popcorn fodder.

Valkyrie has been getting a pretty poor reception from critics in the UK. I remember last year the film getting a lot of positive buzz but apparently that all dissipated with time as Tom Cruise’s reputation sinks lower and lower. I personally have always liked Cruise and still cannot understand why critics expected this film, from master director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects), to be a ‘bad film’. Perhaps it’s because it was clearly going to be unashamed popcorn fodder, but in the event in turns out Valkyrie is an exhilarating and gripping thriller. Despite the fact we all know they didn’t succeed the film plays out its ‘will they wont they’ mechanics up to breaking point and still works brilliantly.

The rest of the cast is a veritable who’s who of British thesps: Kenneth Brannagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Eddie Izzard (OK maybe he isn’t quite a thesp) and a couple of familiar German faces as well like Christian Berkel and Thomas Kretschmann from Downfall. There has been a lot of criticism of the fact most of the actors speak in English with their native accents, I had no problem with this and would probably find it more acceptable than seeing Cruise attempt to butcher another accent after Irish in Far and Away. The acting on the whole is perfectly fine, nothing spectacular, though Cruise, Izzard and Wilkinson do ham it up a little at times.

Valkyrie is a fine return to form for Cruise who has been in desperate need of a star vehicle since his departure from Paramount last year. Although Valkyrie isn’t likely to result in a career resurgence it is an enjoyable and worthy, albeit unexceptional, thriller from one of the best directors working in Hollywood today.

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