director: Bryan Singer
writer: Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander
starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp and Tom Wilkinson
genre: Thriller | War
released: 25 December 2008 (USA)
My good co-writer Gamapi had said in his review of "Closing the Ring" that there are too many WWII stories turned into films. And he is right, there is no need and no apparent market for these films. But that time of history has some of the most intriguing stories that have been told on film. There will always be more stories coming from this time, at least we can hope that they are good ones. Valkyrie happens to be a good one.
Even though we usually think of the Nazis as the bad guys that's not the case here. Valkyrie is about the struggle of some men within the Nazi party and the German political establishment to bring Hitler down. They came close with Operation Valkyrie. The plan is of Colonel Von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) to kill Hitler and set operation Valkyrie in motion which would let the reserve guard take over all the important location in Berlin and blame it all on the SS. He and other co-conspirators all have a job to do in this plot and different motives leading them to these events but as we all know it didn't go exactly as planned.
Going into this film I didn't have high hopes. Thought it to be just a simple heist setup film which it is and its very well done. The sets, locations, costumes are all perfect to the era. Effects are very good and feel real. All this help to make this Hollywood film more serious for the fact that they never tried to make history documentary but a entertaining thriller. This is something they used to do in Hollywood more often in the old days get great actors all together in films that just with star value lift up the material so we don’t have to pay much attention too the material.
I did enjoy this film but its no different then heist a film or revenge films with extravagant plans but instead of robbing a bank its killing Hitler. The film relied more on the how it will happen and the aftermath instead more of the problems these men had with Nazi Party and themselves participating in atrocities. We hear from Branagh character "they should know that not all of us were the same" but only a few lines here in there don’t make the story go any deeper and more meaningful. It’s like heist film. Why are you stealing the money because I need it. Its that simple and that why film does not go farther than it could. Also why couldn't the actors learn German accents. It would have been more realistic and made film even cooler to see Tom Cruise do one even though im not sure if he would accomplish it.
The sad fact about this film is the whole controversy with Scientology. Especially in Germany. Tom Cruise I enjoy his performances as actor in many films even though I don’t enjoy how he parades his religion around but that dosen't stop me to see his films. Also people claimed that because he’s in the film that Valkyrie would be riddled with Scientology symbols and make people more aware of the so called religion. Well the people who are afraid are actually the ones making people more aware of the religion. There was no interference on any part with Tom Cruise spreading Scientology on a period piece film also there is no proof that he his ever done that expect in his personal time.
In the end, 'Valkyrie' is entertaining film with very good performances that gives a story many may not know of except from a episode of the TV show 'Highlander' (yes if you didn't know Highlander was a part of the plot even though he is not portrayed in the film). Many such stories have yet to be told on film I just hope that next time Spielberg tackles it or Eastwood because they got the chops to make a richer film in many areas instead of grounding themselves to making a fitter product for the masses.