German critics savaged Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Adolf Hitler’s would-be killer in Valkyrie ahead of the film’s release here this week,but relished a homegrown hero getting the Hollywood treatment.
Valkyrie has been one of the most keenly awaited new releases in Germany this winter,thanks to the legendary status of its subject — Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg — and a string of controversies during its production.
Although expectations were low here for Cruise in the role of the Prussian aristocrat who dared to make an attempt on the Fuehrer’s life,several critics said even those modest hopes were disappointed.
“Cruise forms the flat,expressionless centre of the film around which the input of the remaining cast and crew fades away like a spectre — and it is not the fault of the eye patch that the wounded Stauffenberg wears,” the chief critic of Berlin’s daily Tagesspiegel,Jan Schulz-Ojala,wrote.
“The efforts of the other actors seem well-nigh grotesque next to the stony-faced acting of the film’s star.”
Cruise donned a Nazi officer’s uniform in the US-German production to play Stauffenberg,who placed a bomb under a table in Hitler’s eastern headquarters in East Prussia on July 20,1944 in a failed bid to end the disastrous war.
The Nazi leader escaped with slight injuries because the briefcase carrying the explosives was moved behind a sturdy leg of the oak table by an unwitting aide.