Valkyrie Review

Valkyrie Review

Valkyrie (2008)
Directed by Brian Singer
Written by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander
Starring Tom Cruise, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branagh
Rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.

Story: Enlightened to the evil of Adolf Hitler, a battle tested German Colonel named Clause von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise), joins a group of fellow dissenters in an intricate plot to assassinate their Fuhrer.

Review: What is it that we’ve loved so much about the work of Brian Singer and Christopher McQuarrie? Well, together they’ve shown the ability to create interesting characters and weave a story that is both engaging and surprising. These tools, found most prominently in 1994’s The Usual Suspects, were enough to propel the careers of both director and scribe. Since then they’ve gone different directions — Singer to the ups (X-Men) and downs (Superman Returns) of the superhero genre and McQuarrie to what can only be described as a long vacation. Now they are back with Valkyrie, perhaps the most straightforward drama that either man has ever delivered. And while Singer has stepped up his visual game as a director, it would appear that both men have lost a step where it counts most — in their ability to tell us a story that makes us want to pay attention.

The film’s problems begin somewhere around the 20 minute mark, right after Singer inundates his audience with a very impressive bout of action. The action, which takes place on the Nazi African battle front, serves as motive for Colonel Stauffenberg (Cruise) and his ultimate quest to kill that Hitler. Shot in digital, the opening action sequence is easily the film’s highlight. It proves that maybe Brian Singer does have a knack for delivering some solid action beats. Unfortunately he allows his story to unravel from there.

Normally I would be defensive about the “we all know what’s going to happen, so why bother” factor. Because sure, we all know how Hitler’s fate is ultimately dealt....

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