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Suspenseful Piece of History, but...,
This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
There have been five versions of `Valkyrie' told on screen in the last twenty years. 1990 had the excellent Brad Davis in "The Plot To Kill Hitler", 2004 had "Operation Valkyrie" by Sebastion Koch and 2008 produced two films, "Killing Hitler: The True Story Of The Valkyrie Plot" and "Operation Valkyrie: The Stauffenberg Plot To Kill Hitler". For those interested, the word valkyrie is derived from `old horse' valkyrja (referring to the slain on the battlefield) and the verb kjósa (meaning "to choose"). Together, the words mean "chooser of the slain." A word chosen by Hitler himself. The story tells of the 1944 attempt by several High Command German Officers to asassinate Hitler and take over control of the German government. Colonel Stauffenberg led a resistance group who amanged to plant a bomb in Hitler's battlefield headquarters. The bomb went off. We all know how Hitler really died.
Now this year we have "Valkyrie" starring a host of grand actors like, Tom Wilkinson, Terrance Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard. Hitler is played to perfection by a lesser-known actor named David Bamber. All sport British/German accents, which helps the credibility of the story. Then we have Tom Cruise as Colonel Stauffenberg. He is horrendously and miserably miscast. The beginning of the film has a Tom Cruise sound-alike German voice speaking that tries to slowly evolve into Cruise's American voice. It's as big a bomb as the one that goes off in Hitler's bunker.
The direction by Bryan Singer is, of course, well done with first class cinematography and surround sounds of explosions and gunfire. All the acting is first rate, except for Tom Cruise who rarely raises his voice and looks meek and stoic throughout the film. I am sorry to bash Mr. Cruise, but he is just terribly miscast. He shows little emotion, drive or passion. Brad Davis in the 1990 version was excellent, showing a wide range of emotions, especially towards the plot, his companions and his family. In fact, Davis successful changes his accent even if it isn't perfect German or British.
The Singer film is perfectly adequate, but I found myself sighing every time Cruise appears on film (and not the good kind of sighing). Singer does manage to be faithful to the original story, only changing some scenes to highlight Cruise. Many of the scenes of the Stauffenberg house, the bunker in the forest and others are identical and it manages to feel like WWII Germany (it was filmed there), but the ending set-up seems contrived, even if it is true. The Stauffenberg family was imprisoned and released a few years later, something not noted in the Singer film.
If you have never heard the story, it is an amazing part of history. The supporting cast couldn't be better and Director Singer knows how to handle suspense and the horrors of war. However, Tom Cruise is simply "Risky Business" Tom Cruise in a German uniform. He is completely out of place. Enjoy the film with that warning.