Hitler Lives!

Valkyrie (2008)

For all the star power and film making pedigree at work here, director Brian Singer's film about a plot to kill Hitler in 1944 should have been a rip-snorting thriller. As it turns out, it's merely a competent one. Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus Von Stuaffenberg, a career officer who hatches a plot to assassinate Hitler, use the reserve army in Berlin to overthrow the other “bad” Nazis, and seize power.

First off, the film looks great. The set designs and sense of place feels authentic and, once you forgive the age-old American film making conceit that all Nazis were just British stage actors in snappy uniforms, the cast is effective too. With all these things going for it, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what didn't gel. Cruise, for all his off-screen lunacy, is certainly not the problem here. He makes for a reasonably believable Stauffenberg. There are a couple of standouts amongst the high-power supporting cast and several effective plot moments where you get the sense the plan could have gone either way.

I think it boils down to the script. It simply doesn't hold together all that well and the pacing is all over the place. That being said, it's got to be tough to write a compelling story around an event where the audience already knows the outcome. We all...., ah, Most people know...mmmm, Some of us...no, Few aren't aware... ah jesus, It's possible that Hitler wasn't assassinated in June 1944 and there was no coup. I was reminded of sitting in the pre-Chapters Runnymede Theatre watching Titanic and overhearing a couple of women chatting during the film behind us. One said.... “you know it sinks, huh?”... The other ….”Oh great, now you've ruined the movie!”. True story.

Maybe what's missing in Valkyrie is a beautiful ship to look at while we wait for it to sink. The first half of Titanic was spent wandering around a spectacular and very famous cruise ship. It ended with the ship full of holes, missing bits and sinking in the North Atlantic. In Valkyrie, the Cruise ship is busted up in the opening scene but doesn't sink until the final one and perhaps that's why it didn't work. Warning! This review may contain spoilers.

A Globiquitous 2.5 stars for Valkyrie.

1 comment:

the coelacanth said...

haha cruise ship. i'm mildly intrigued by this, and my curiosity builds by the day. i had absolutely zero interest when it came out, but a customer returned it yesterday with a cautiously optimistic review and now your "decent-enough" take....hmmmm, i think i will watch it after all, if only for stamp...how is he in it?

oh and the spoilers thing made me laugh.