Thursday, December 25, 2008
Movie Reviews: VALKYRIE
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. Realizing 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 Hitler's 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.
Cast: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten
Director: Bryan Singer
Opens today December 25, 2008
Runtime: 2 hr. 0 min.
Rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language
Bryan Singer's Valkyrie is a slick if some what hollow historical thriller. Beautifully shot and produced, Valkyrie is a thriller that leaves you feeling like something is missing. Scripted by Singer's Usual Suspects cohort Christopher McQuarrie, this film feels like it's in a hurry to get somewhere and in doing so foregoing much of the character development that could have made this a truly special film. We are introduced to the conspirators in short order and quickly moved into planning details. We know very little about the major players and thusly have very little emotional attachment to them as the film proceeds. The cast assembled is top notch, none adjusting their natural accents, but never fully taken advantage of. Tom Cruise does an adequate job in the lead, as he typically does, but never gives Stauffenberg any additional depth or complexity. Then there his accent, it's the same very American accent he's used in every film since he started. It's mildly distracting but I've come to expect a certain type of acting from Cruise, he's very rarely ever lived in a character's skin, and here he's what you would expect. Bill Nighy does what little he can with the sliver of script he's given. The same can be said of the remainder of the cast such as Wilkinson and Eddie Izzard. The immensely talented Kenneth Branagh isn't given much more than a cameo here. Even with its massive character failings Valkrie does work, it's at its best in the 3rd act once all the machinations are in play, and makes for a mildly gripping conclusion, a difficult task considering we know the outcome. At 2 hours this film still feels rushed as if it were trimmed down to the bear necessities storywise. As is, Valkyrie is a solid piece of filmmaking from Singer but it could have been so much more.