Valkyrie [Blu-ray] 
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Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh star in this World War II suspense thriller. At the height of the war, a group of high-ranking German officers, including Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise), Major-General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) and General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy), hatched a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (David Bamber) and seize power of the military command in order to end the war and make peace with Allied forces. The operation, codenamed 'Valkyrie', was modified by the conspirators to ensure its success, but for various reasons the plot failed when finally carried out on 20 July 1944, and the conspirators of the inner circle were summarily executed following a kangaroo trial.
Based on a the true story of a cadre of Nazi officers who grew to oppose Hitler's murderous pursuits and made several attempts to kill him in the late stages of WWII, VALKYRIE features a top-flight cast, with drama and suspense in equal measure. The film is a stylistic departure for director Bryan Singer (X-MEN, X2) and star Tom Cruise, with a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) and Nathan Alexander that is constructed like a heist film, with a team of like-minded men coming together for a common purpose and facing incredible odds. It is 1943, and though he has come to be disgusted by Hitler's campaign of evil, Count Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) has risen to the level of lieutenant colonel in the German army. Convinced that Hitler must die, Von Stauffenberg requests a transfer to Tunisia, where he loses his left eye and right hand during an Allied air raid. Falling in with a group of similarly disillusioned officers including Major General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh), General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy), General Friedrich Fromm (Tom Wilkinson), and Colonel General Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp), Stauffenberg is at the centre of several attempts on Der Fuhrer's life, culminating in a bombing that kills a handful of his officers and leaves Hitler only slightly injured.
Though advance photos of Cruise in Nazi uniform brought VALKYRIE negative publicity, his restrained performance is at the heart of this well-crafted, thinking person's action movie. He is bolstered by an incredible British cast including Branagh, Stamp, and Wilkinson, and by the film's dazzling art direction. Though it's a story to which viewers should already know the ending, Singer still creates ample suspense. The result is a taut and effective historical thriller.
Tom Cruise and Claus von Stauffenberg
Carice van Houten and Nina von Stauffenberg
Terence Stamp and Ludwig Beck
Bill Nighy and Friedrich Olbricht
Eddie Izzard and Erich Fellgiebel
Kenneth Branagh and Henning von Tresckow
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Top Customer Reviews
Whoever has adapted this important historical event into a screenplay has done a tremendous job creating characters who are believably human (complete with flaws) whilst remaining faithful to the events. The cast is an excellent line-up of some of the best serious actors currently treading the boards and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much British talent is showcased here. It is obvious that a great deal of homework has been done and this could serve as a great lesson to other film-makers that you do not have to distort, invent or change the facts of history to make it entertaining (NB: U571, Pearl Harbour, Inglorious Basterds!).
I would recommend this film to anyone who has even a passing interest in WW2 or even viewers who simply enjoy a good tale well told.
However, with one tiny inaccuracy at the start of the film, it proceeded in its relentless journey to impress time after time, with its locations, infinitesimal attention to detail which can only be described as a triumph of research and its utterly moving telling of a story doomed to fail from the day it was conceived.
If ever there was a tale about how not to carry out a military coup this is it. Endless good intentions utterly ruined by a total failure of communications.
I found the scene at The Berghof, when Stauffenberg has to get Hitler to sign the Walkure amendment to enable the plan to take shape, simply unbearable in its tension. Every member of the senior German government was instantly recognisable to me without any names being used and most of them not speaking, they were that superbly portrayed and chosen. The exceptional detail of the Berghof layout was just awe-inspiring.
The aircraft scene (which there is an interesting documentary about on the disc) is again outstanding, this is exactly how Hitler travelled. Even the way everyone reluctantly puts out their cigarettes (Hitler loathed smoking)as he arrives. The focus on a mosquito biting a guard - emphasising the sultry summer heat and mosquito infested Rastenburg site was genius. You didn't have to do it, but in doing so, for detail freaks like me, this was extraordinary.Read more ›
Cruise may be nominally the star but to surround himself by such capable talent on both sides of the camera lifts Valkyrie above his average vehicle. It's directed by Bryan Singer, who reunites with his Usual Suspects collaborators Christopher McQuarrie (co-writer) and John Ottman (composer and editor). The ensemble includes Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Terence Stamp.
The subject matter also represents a departure. The true-life story of an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler means everyone knows up front that he won't be riding off into the sunset, having got the girl who 'completes' him. In fact, Cruise's physical resemblance to the person he portrays, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, is uncanny.
Von Stauffenberg was an outspoken opponent of the Hitler regime and the prime mover behind a daring plan to eradicate the dictator from the scene once and for all. The fact that Der Führer didn't meet his end after walking into an elaborate mousetrap makes witnessing what might have been all the more fascinating. Indeed, the tension is ramped up throughout and despite their being on a hiding to nothing you find yourself rooting for the conspirators.
The one potential sticking point is the use of the actors' natural speaking voices instead of German accents. It's obvious that some of the cast would be better at them than others so this is neatly transitioned right at the beginning. You soon accept that it's a theatrical convention and doesn't detract from your enjoyment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting true story abut plans to assassinate a tyrant...good dvd...Published 15 days ago by Hands-on-Nan
I;m not a great Tom Cruise fan but this is well worth a watch, Arrived in time.Colin.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Chronicles the efforts of a group of people to eliminate the leader of German during World War II. Insightful, feels like it should e in German with English sub-titles.Published 3 months ago by ellison
I like WW2 Resistance films but this one didn't cut it for me I am afraid. Although based on a true story about the attempted bomb plot to assassinate Hitler it didn't seem to have... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike