Friday, 30 January 2009


An interesting idea backed by a top cast...

Colonel Stuaffenberg (Tom Cruise) is one of the few men in the Nazi party who feel that their leader, Adolf Hitler (David Bamber), is more a threat to German instead of her saviour. He regrets the oath he took for Hitler and feels a desire to help Germany in any way possible. When a surprise attack on a German camp in Tunisia leaves Stuaffenberg seriously wounded, he becomes recruited into a group bent on killing Hitler at any cost.

While based upon real-life events, Valkyrie's soul is that of an action thriller and not a biopic. This is not to say that director Bryan Singer skews history but he merely doesn't try to authenticate the film in its entirety. The most obvious claim to this would be the lack of German accents from the main cast. Besides the German introduction from Cruise, all major characters keep their American or British accents intact. This is by no means problematic for the film, and many other greats have been in the same boat. A recent example is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: a stellar film where the cast was easily identifiably for their strong English accents even though they were German. The fact of the manner is, is that authentic accents would not enhance either films' core message, with Valkyrie's being about bravery in an unforgiving situation.

The story itself follows a fairly consistent flow with the odd moment being stretched out far longer then it ought to be or a story segment which is not developed enough, such as the lack of screen time to develop the relationship between Stauffenberg and his wife Nina (Carice van Houten) and their children. That said, it should be noted that there is an obvious lack of true twists in the story, unless you have no idea about Operation Valkyrie, but this forms a truly impressive feat from Singer, the story and the actors: there is a genuine feel in the film that there is a chance that Stuaffenberg could actually succeed and this only heightens the suspense.

The acting front is laden with experience and it shows. Cruise proves commendable as his role as Stuaffenberg and expresses the same level of vigour he has shown many films before. He is not the most ideal candidate but that does not stop him. However Cruise does have the rare weak moment where his delivery of a certain line comes across as stiff and out of character. The British cast is simply fantastic and virtually faultless. The likes of Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighly and Tom Wilkinson bring a level of believability to the film that could have otherwise been lost and their presence is easily felt. Smaller, though not unimportant, roles go to von Houten, who shows a real sense of love for Stuaffenberg, and Bamber, who is just as every inch as creepy and menacing as the infamous Hitler himself. As noted, the entire cast is impressive and lift the film as a whole.

The music ensemble, while not overly memorable, supports the film at all times. The direction is no different. Bryan Singer brings a neat fluidity to the scenes which help the film's pacing but it is evident that he is not confident to allow the story or characters speak for themselves in many situations, and instead of being subtle, prefers to make sure the audience understands everything as it happens. In this respect the film loses much of its intrigue and naturalness.

Sex and nudity play no part in the film's proceedings with language being brief, if not strong on the odd occasion. Action sequences show off the violent content but there are far and few, never graphic and is comprises mainly of firearms with a suicide scene.

Valkyrie can be considered Tom Cruise's return to cinema, and thankfully the end result is a positive one. He is backed up by a decent storyline and a superb selection of actors. Sure the film could have used with some better pacing, more depth and subtlety; and the lack of German accents do possibly ruin the experience if you allow it to do so, but these problems do not hurt the film in any serious manner. Valkyrie might lack the literary impact to allow it to be phenomenal, but that does not stop it being watchable and exciting.


Screen date: 30 January 2009
Release date: 30 January 2009


Farzan said...

Good review, I also enjoyed this film and will pick it up as soon as it comes out on DVD. I thought it worked effectively as a thriller and featured some cool shots.

Anonymous said...

althought this is a great film. it is not a original idea.... the orginal valkyrie (called staufenberg) ( was a german 3part tv series that showed a lot more detail than a 80+mnute hollywood movie ever could