December 16, 2008

Valkyrie (12/16/08)

Lettergrade: C

It's sort of like Mission: Impossible with Nazis. Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who in 1944 led the final of 15 attempts within the German government to overthrow Hitler and restore Germany to a position of respect and honor in the world. Of course, you know going in that their plans were not successful, but nevertheless it is a well-made thriller in the tradition of Fred Zinneman that gets you wrapped up when appropriate. I'd place the sum total, however, in the slightly-above-average category: There are some excellent performances from some of my favorite actors including Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, and Kenneth Branagh, but there's an odd absence of humanity. Everything feels very sterile and almost impersonal. Tom Cruise has gotten a lot of shit for his performance, but honestly I felt it was fine. He makes no attempt at a German accent (nor does anyone else), but I'd rather hear that than something that tried for authenticity and missed the mark wildly.

They've released the move on Christmas, which seems kind of fucked up as I doubt it will be nominated for many awards nor will the Judeo-Christian community want to interrupt their holiday family time to spend a little time with Hitler. Nevertheless, it's not a bad picture, and worth checking out if time permits.

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