When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary.
Cuba Gooding Jr.,
In Nazi Germany during World War II, as the tide turned in favor of the Allies, a cadre of senior German officers and politicians desperately plot to topple the Nazi regime before the nation is crushed in a nearly inevitable defeat. To this end, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, an Army officer convinced he must save Germany from Adolf Hitler, is recruited to mastermind a real plan. To do so, he arranges for the internal emergency measure, Operation: Valkyrie, to be changed to enable his fellows to seize control of Berlin after the assassination of Der Führer. However, even as the plan is put into action, a combination of bad luck and human failings conspire on their own to create a tragedy that would prolong the greater one gripping Europe.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sir Kenneth Branagh was originally going to play the villain in Mission: Impossible III (2006) when David Fincher was attached to direct. When Fincher bailed, Branagh considered taking over as director, but he decided to star opposite Tom Cruise in this movie instead. See more »
(at around 35 mins) When Stauffenberg is speaking with his fellows, he looks at the portrait of Adolf Hitler hanging on the wall and says "At the end of this the portrait will be unhung, and a man will be hung." The grammatically correct past tense of "hang" (as a method of execution) is "hanged". See more »
soldiers in unison:
I swear by God this sacred oath: That I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the German Reich and people, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and that I shall at all times be ready, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath.
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Solidly engaging thriller that works despite knowing the outcome before you start
I'm not really a fan of Tom Cruise so I let this film go past me until it came to TV because I just thought it screamed "star vehicle" too loudly. In reality I was probably a bit too hasty with that call because Valkyrie is a solid little film that delivers an interesting story with the predictable Hollywood liberty but does so in a rather satisfying manner. Having decided to put my personal feelings on Cruise to one side, I did still think that the film would struggle because ultimately I already knew the ending (spoiler: the plot to assassinate Hitler isn't successful) and it would therefore not be able to hook me in. I think in a way this was correct but not really in the way that I thought.
In terms of just straight up narrative flow the film does engage; OK it maybe takes a while to establish the main players and get things moving forward but ultimately, while I knew they would fail, I was interested to see what happens, how it happens and what they did. On this level I enjoyed the film and although it was a full two hours long I wasn't bored by it and it felt like it was as long as it should have been. Where I thought it didn't quite pull it off is in the portrayal of why the conspirators felt they had to act. In this regard I didn't feel their desperation and I didn't get a tangible sense of how bad things were at this point in the war for Germany; I know from other films etc how bad things were but this film didn't really do that so much as simply say that things were bad. Likewise I didn't get a feel for the emotions behind the plot and instead I got the impression that the film was taking it as read that everyone dislikes Hitler and therefore that would be all the understanding we would need – this is perhaps partly true but the film needed this as part of it, not an external thing brought by modern audiences.
Singer does a really good job in terms of direction. There isn't a huge amount of action here but the tension is good and it is very well delivered to be a lot more effective than I thought it would be (again, the issue over knowing the ending). The cast is deep in quality but, like me, many will get stuck at Cruise. He does an OK job by which I mean he doesn't overplay or make it all about him the personality. The downside of this is that he doesn't bring much character out either and I didn't see much of a person in his character – he does have presence though, which helps a lot. The supporting cast is rich and their presence also helps the film since you cannot turn left or right without bumping into a quality British actor. Branagh, Nighy, Wilkinson, Stamp, Izzard, Hollander and so on – they all do solid work and are a boon to the film.
Valkyrie isn't a classic by any means but nor is it the ego-driven Cruise film I expected. Instead it is a solidly entertaining thriller based on fact that manages to engage even though you know the outcome. Cruise doesn't get in the way and the support cast make it stronger by their quality and their number.
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