A fine historical thriller
Producers: Tom Cruise,Chris Lee,Ken Kamins,John Ottman
Director: Bryan Singer
Story: Nathan Alexander,Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Tom Cruise,Kenneth Branagh,Bill Nighy,Tom Wilkinson,Carice van Houten,Eddie Izzard
Based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and the daring and ingenious plot to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants the world has ever known. Valkyrie is a meticulously-made thriller based on a large- scale conspiracy within the German army to assassinate Hitler,leading to a failed bombing attempt on July 20,1944. At the centre of the plot was Col. Claus von Stauffenberg,played here by Tom Cruise, as the moving force behind the attempted coup,which led to 700 arrests and 200 executions,including von Stauffenbergs.
A proud military man,Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is a loyal officer who serves his country all the while hoping that someone will find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany are destroyed. Realising that time is running out,he decides that he must take action himself and joins the German resistance. Armed with a cunning strategy to use Hitlers own emergency plan – known as Operation Valkyrie – these men plot to assassinate the dictator and overthrow his Nazi government from the inside.
With everything in place,with the future of the world,the fate of millions and the lives of his wife and children hanging in the balance,Von Stauffenberg is thrust from being one of many who oppose Hitler to the one who must kill Hitler himself.
Valkyrie starts slow. The director Bryan Singer takes his time to introduce key characters and establish potential roadblocks. Tom Wilkinson is particularly convincing as a paranoid Nazi superior who could assist Stauffenberg but would never speak out against the Führer. The film takes flight,however,once Stauffenberg greenlights the plan even though all of the elements for success might not be in place.
Bryan Singer mounts an impressive campaign,recreating Hitlers Berlin. Though we know how the story will head,he borrows the odd Alfred Hitchcock trick to drum up tensions,with the frustrations felt by German loyalists carrying out the orders of a delusional leader. The film works heroically as it introduces the major figures in the plot,to tell them apart,to explain their roles and to suggest their differences. The two best supporting performances are by Kenneth Branagh as a major-general who smuggles a bomb into Hitlers inner circle and then must smuggle it out again,and Tom Wilkinson as a general who artfully sits on the fence,treating the plot with benign neutrality while covering himself should it fail. Tom Cruise is satisfactory,if not electrifying,in the leading role.
One for the script. One for performances. One for direction.