Ever since Tom Cruise began jumping on couches and professing his love for Katie Holmes the public has wanted him to fail. We've mocked his films, his personality, and even his religious choice. We've questioned his sanity. Nothing is off limits in our quest to bring down one of the biggest Hollywood stars today. This quest extends to questioning his film choices and when he and director Bryan Singer (Superman Returns, The Usual Suspects) decided they were going to make a film about the attempt on the life of Hitler by high ranking members of the German army, well…we all snickered. After seeing the film I have to say that the last laugh has been reserved for Tom Cruise.
During the latter stages of World War II a treasonous plot arose amongst some high ranking members of the German army. After a failed attempt Major General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Wild Wild West), General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy – Notes on a Scandal, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) and Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp – Get Smart, Wanted) recruit recently injured Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder, Lions for Lambs) to take part in their plot to kill Hitler (David Bamber – Miss Potter, Gangs of New York). This was to be done to save Germany and Europe from complete ruin.
After at first refusing, Stauffenberg decides he has to do it to protect his beloved family and Germany. Stauffenberg suggests that they use Operation Valkyrie in ordered to seize control of the German army after they assassinate Hitler. They come up with the plan to plant a bomb during a briefing at Hitler's Wolf's Lair. Stauffenberg and his assistant Lieutenant von Haeften (Jamie Parker – The History Boys) will plant and detonate the bomb, Olbricht will launch Operation Valkyrie and Dr. Carl Goerdeler (Kevin McNally – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, De-Lovely) would be installed as Chancellor of Germany. The plan was very risky and it needed courage, precision and luck to happen.
Bringing this movie to us and playing the lead character of Stauffenberg took plenty of courage on Cruise's part. He must have known going in that people would be sceptical and most likely be waiting for the film to fail. Would we believe this mega star as a German soldier who wears an eye-patch? It takes quite a bit of work in the beginning of the film for director Singer and actor Cruise to convince us that he is Colonel Stauffenberg.
The tale of Stauffenberg's attempt on Hitler's life is historically accurate and despite the physical differences between the actual Stauffenberg and Tom Cruise he does a fine job in the character. And this comes from a person who is not Cruise's number one fan. Cruise has totally committed himself to the character he plays and it is visible onscreen.
The story, even though we all know that the plot to kill Hitler was not successful, is highly intriguing and filled with suspense. How all these brave men go about what they hope to accomplish keeps us interested.
Despite all the good things about Valkyrie the film falls a bit short of its potential due to its surprising lack of emotion. The most emotional scenes are between Stauffenberg and his wife (Carice van Houten) and kids. While your mind is engaged in the film your heart is not as in it as it should be.
No matter the baggage that Cruise now carries into everything he does the film is most certainly not the failure that it was rumoured to be and turns out to be a solid effort from everyone, Cruise included, involved.