Theatrical Review: Valkyrie

In the summer of 1944, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg of the German Army and a group of other ranking German officials, both military and civilian, attempted the last of the Germans own attempts to kill Adolf Hitler and wrest away control of Germany to peaceably negotiate an end to World War II. Valkyrie is the story of that attempt and it’s failure…

… and it’s one hell of a great movie from director Bryan Singer and star Tom Cruise. This marks the first time these two have worked together and I can only hope that they’ll do it again someday. Nothing is really spoon-fed to you here and though this plan seems like the best way to go about it, it always hangs on both timing and the wills of the players involved. What you have here is a pretty taut thriller, that still plays extremely well even though you already know the outcome.

I mention Tom Cruise specifically because he’s obviously the lead here, but the way the movie plays out, it’s way more of an ensemble than most might figure it to be, and there’s one hell of a good cast at work here. You’ve got Kenneth Brannagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp, Christian Berkel and Thomas Kretschmann amongst this fine cast and all are doing great work, with some stand out stuff from both Wilkinson, Nighy and Berkel in particular.

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how this will disappoint them because Tom Cruise doesn’t speak with a German accent in the film, which of course is a lame reason for disappointment, especially considering that the bulk of the cast is British and doesn’t speak with a German accent either. This film has a pretty clever way of getting past that right at the start and it’s something that’s been done with other films (most notably The Hunt For Red October) because as we all know, audiences for the most part hate to read their movies… so big effin’ whoop over the fact that no one has a German accent here. I’ve also seen complaints about how this doesn’t get into much in the way of Naziism or the atrocities committed by the Germans, and while that might be a little valid, it’s not what the movie is about, and it’s pretty evidently stated that this group came together because they didn’t believe in the legacy that Hitler was leaving behind with his Germany, though some (most notably Wilkinson’s General Fromm) have different ambitions growing from the outcome.

I was riveted to this movie right from the start, and honestly can’t wait to see it again. For me anyway, it’s right up there with HBO’s movie Conspiracy and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s excellent film Downfall (and to a lesser effect Wolfgang Peterson’s Das Boot) about key moments on the German side during World War II. Highly recommended…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

28. December 2008 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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