|Based on the true story of a Nazi uprising to assassinate Hitler, it was hoped that Operation Valkyrie would save Europe from total destruction.||score
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Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Carice van Houten, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard
Rating / Running Time
M / 120 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006-2009
ABN 72 775 390 361
famously noted, there’s nothing like death to sharpen the mind.
So it was with the Third Reich’s Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg
who very nearly found himself a statistic. He survived an Allied attack
and was sent back to Berlin, minus one hand and an eye. Convinced that
he was no longer the solution but part of the problem facing
Europe, he joined a group of high-ranking Nazi’s who felt that
their future lay with the death of Hitler. Operation Valkyrie, a
treasonous plan to assassinate the Fuehrer, was launched.
Director Bryan Singer is the master of glossy, commercial thrills yet he’s been looking for an X-Men sized hit after the disappointment of Superman Returns. With Tom Cruise in the lead and a powerfully true story in his script, Valkyrie looked to be that film. And in many ways it is. Singer delivers a rattling good yarn that somehow manages to hoodwink your knowledge of history. We know Hitler wasn’t killed by his own men yet somehow, maybe this time… Much of the action is thrillingly staged and Singer’s long time cinematographic partner Newton Sigel returns a handsome print.
Yet something is missing. Valkyrie never packs the punch of its operatic namesake. Singer steers Stauffenberg and his men, senior Nazi officers, along an uncomplicated dramatic path without exploring why they’ve suddenly found their conscience. They’re simplistically painted as good guys in a bad uniform, and it’s way too pat. Cruise and his supporting cast (Nighy, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson) are similarly one-dimensional and offer little insight into the complexity – logistical or emotional – of the operation. This isn’t a bank job after all – this is treason. This is Hitler!
With a little less shine and a little more substance Valkyrie could have been Singer’s Schindler’s List. It’s not, but it is an absorbing entertainment and an easily digested history lesson most know little about. And to that end, it works.
// COLIN FRASER