Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +2

Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Dretschmann, Eddie Izzard, Christian Berkel, Terence Stamp. Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander. Directed by Bryan Singer.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In a country in the grip of evil, in a police state where every move is being watched, a group of men hidden inside the highest reaches of power decide to take action. Based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) the story tells of the daring plot to eliminate one of the most satanic tyrants the world has ever known. Director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, Superman Returns) re-teams with Academy Award-winning Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie to bring to life the story of the men who led the operation to assassinate Hitler.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The casting of Tom Cruise as a German high command is troubling for me. Not that he isn’t a good actor or that he doesn’t do a competent job here. He’s just too American. And though now in his forties, the actor still looks like he’d prefer doing some waves to just about anything else. The casting of a European would have helped with our suspension of disbelieve. Or, how about a German? I understand they make movies. Cruise’s anarchic appearance is just too Southern California for the portrayal of a member of Hitler’s inner circle. I expected the Fuehrer to ask, “Do you have relatives on za-Coast?”

But for me, that’s the film’s only weakness. And we soon get past that, thanks to director Bryan Singer, who proved with The Usual Suspects that he could create and maintain suspense, even when there is none. Despite the ending of The Usual Suspects, which invalidates its premise, it is a testament to the writer/director that he is able to captivate and hold audiences in their seats. Same goes for this film. We’re sitting there, fully believing the would-be assassins can achieve their task. We’re actually waiting for it, even though we learned in school that it didn’t happen. (Hitler killed himself nine months after this attack.) Now, that’s good cinema technique, when it causes us to hope for a new outcome.

Aided by a sophisticated camera drive, the director’s clever visceral style, the script’s thematic vision, and a fine supporting cast, Valkyrie is a topnotch action thriller. It makes my best list of best of the year.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: MGM

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: One use of the f-word (not by the lead).
Profanity: I caught none.
Violence: There are some wartime atrocities seen, and a few jolting explosions, one causing the disfigurement of the lead (he loses a hand and an eye), but the filmmaker’s do not assault us with battlefront atrocities; the film is about the murder pack to kill a man – if you can call Adolph Hitler that – and we see and hear the explosion of the bomb meant to kill him; graphic executions of several men who attempted the assassination. Blood: None much blood.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Several characters smoke, as was the custom of the day.
Other: None
Running Time: 150 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature teens and above

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