Tom Cruise in "Valkyrie"
Tom Cruise continues his career-long trend of working with cinema's top directors. Cruise has collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola ("The Outsiders"), Ridley Scott ("Legend"), Martin Scorsese ("The Color of Money"), Oliver Stone ("Born on the Fourth of July"), Ron Howard ("Far and Away"), Stanley Kubrick ("Eyes Wide Shut") and Steven Spielberg ("Minority Report").
Cruise teams with adroit auteur Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects" and "X-Men") for this gripping suspense/drama about the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in 1944 Nazi Germany. Cruise spearheads a spectacular cast as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a confident soldier and family man suffering from the physical and emotional effects of service under Hitler's maniacal leadership. A barrage of gunfire in Africa leaves von Stauffenberg permanently disabled -- his right hand is severed at the wrist and he loses sight in his left eye.
Eager to raise his children in a Hitler-less Germany, where fear and the fury of war don't blanket the country like a black cloud, von Stauffenberg sides with a handful of high-ranking German generals to scheme Hitler's downfall. Surreptitiously the German Resistance begins to plan the execution of Project Valkyrie, an emergency protocol intended to shift military power away from the SS following Hitler's death. Tension and turmoil take hold as the risky strategy accelerates -- with no turning back.
Say what you will about Tom Cruise (his ardent support of Scientology has certainly turned off some potential fans), the man is a true professional. He invests himself fully in his role and continues to exude charm and charisma, 22 years after flipping fighter jets in "Top Gun." The supporting cast is thespian talent personified: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Terence Stamp are all remarkable.
The film opens with Cruise aptly speaking German over English subtitles and then smoothly transitions into Cruise simply delivering his dialogue in English. The technique works well, but the lack of German accents throughout (Cruise speaks with a standard American accent while several of his British-born co-stars speak with their natural British accents) will occasionally pull the viewer away from the story. But the accent problem is the only glaring flaw, as production values (cinematography, costuming, set design, etc.) are all top notch.
The tension that builds throughout "Valkyrie" is palpable and the plot is incredibly compelling. The film valuably demonstrates a German patriotism and nobility that was invisible to many who witnessed only Hitler's authoritarian influence. These men and women showed courage and resolve in the face of tyranny -- kudos to Singer and Cruise for bringing the tale to Tinseltown.
Rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language. 2 hours, 1 minute.
- Tyler Hanley