Valkyrie – 3.5/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Valkyrie – 3.5/5 -This review is the second review from my movie recommendation week, and is for a movie that, for all its strength, has very obvious weaknesses.  Movies based around real life events and/or wars have always been around, good or bad. From Schindler’s List to Letters of Iwa Jima, there have been many events portrayed greatly with cinematic elements.  For this film, it depicts an event that happens in Nazi Germany.  For all it does right in the film with actual events and acting, the obvious portrayals and the lack of real Germanic feeling bring the movie down.

In Nazi Germany during World War II, as the tides turn in favor of The Allies, a cadre of senior German officers and politicians desperately plot to topple the Nazi regime before the nation is crushed in a near-inevitable defeat. To this end, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is convinced he must save Germany from Hitler.  He is then recruited to this group to mastermind a real plan to take out Hitler. To do so, he arranges for the internal emergency measure (Operation: Valkyrie) to be changed to enable his fellows to seize control of Berlin after the assassination of the Fuhrer.  Even as the plan is put into action, a combination of bad luck and human failings conspire on their own to create a tragedy that would prolong the Nazi’s reign.  For all this, the acting by Tom Cruise as the Colonel is top notch.  He comes across subtle but stern, and has a strong vision to save the ‘real’ Germany in his mind.  He feels there are better people, and that they can be seen in a different light for the allies.  When he meets up with the group that is plotting to take out Hitler, his dreams seem to be coming true and you see his all out daunting task in his actions and words, as he aims to take out the Fuhrer and free Germany of his tyrannical reign.     Outside of him, the obvious cast of generals, soldiers, plotters and love interest can be found throughout the film.  These typical archetypes help position solid acting moving a story from act to act, but nothing that can peak your interest or standout as amazing.  This is sad to say because the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and others can be found in these roles.  You can tell they were obviously hindered by a standard ‘conspiracy’ script.

When it comes to the movie itself, there is one thing that is very obvious from the start.  There isn’t any major ‘German’ speaking dialogue in the most important times, and throughout the movie period.  This is truly a disappointment to me, and anyone that likes to watch historical scenarios in films.  This breaks the movie because it doesn’t give you the real, rawness of what it would feel like during this time.  Outside of this, the movie does entertain.  From the group’s planning, to the obvious setup and eventual failure, you stay attentive and actually root for the plot to take effect.   Even for its obvious plot points, and typical thriller stylistic scheming, you like what you’re watching.  Even though you want to keep watching, you only are kept focused on Tom Cruise’s character and what really will happen if he gets caught.

What kept the film real, for the most part, was the set pieces and cinematography.  The portrayal is very striking for Europe during this time, and you feel placed in this era.   It is believable, and you wish this depth could have been complimented by a striking and layered direction, but at least there was something that came across seemingly looking like WWII in Europe.

Overall, this film does entertain.  It gives you a standard action/historical take on a revenge plot against Hitler.  The predictable plot points stand out, and this becomes hindered by standard thriller direction, and the ‘lack their of’ usage of the German language.  Tom Cruise does a wonderful job in his role, but that is the only thing that stands out character-wise.  From a director like Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects/X-men and X2) you expect more, but he fails to deliver something authentic, but still entertaining.  I’ll give this is a passable rental, as it is a good movie to watch on a Friday night with friends.

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