Valkyrie Review

Published 5 years ago by

Short Version: While Valkyrie offers a few thrills, the rest is just OK.

valkyrie 02 Valkyrie Review
Screen Rant reviews Valkyrie

Valkyrie is director Bryan Singer’s WWII true-life ensemble film about a cabal of Nazi officers who conspired  to kill Adolf Hitler during the later days of the war. Overshadowing all of that is, of course, Tom Cruise, who stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the German officer who hatches the plan to overthrow Hitler, codenamed Valkyrie.

So let’s identify some of the obvious issues this movie faces:

A) Anyone who’s had third grade history knows that the plot against Hitler ultimately fails. Drawing tension out of  a story whose end is already known is a tricky feat.

B) The language issue. It’s a coin toss for which would’ve been more painful: hearing Tom Cruise and Co. trying to speak German, or hearing Tom and Co. speaking English inflected with German accents.

C) TOM CRUISE. These days you’re either able to watch him act, or you’re not.

Now let’s address each issue, one at a time:

Issue A) To its credit, Valkyrie manages to keep things taut and tense most of the time. In the back of your mind you know that operation Valkyrie is going to fail, and that Tom Cruise won’t be flying off “into the danger zone” when it’s all over. However, the film has an extensive ensemble of accomplished actors (Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terrence Stamp and Eddie Izzard, to name a few), who play their roles as Nazi officers with enough shifty anxiety and slight menace that you’re never really certain who is going screw who over, when, why, or how. It’s just enough uncertainty and anxiety to snag your attention and keep it. Only problem is, the moment you know for sure how operation Valkyrie goes wrong, the film has no thrills left to offer, with still a half hour left to kill.

Still, the assassination day sequence when the conspirators try to take Hitler out is pretty awesome and had me on the edge of my seat. Bryan Singer at his best.

Issue B) The language thing is bad, I’m not going to lie to you. As I said, having the actors speaking German would’ve been just as terrible as hearing them speak English with fake German accents. I’m sure Bryan Singer realized that very early on, as indicated by the opening minutes of the film, in which Tom Cruise delivers a voice-over in German, which then “morphs” into English.

My  gripe is that Bryan Singer chose to disregard the language issue instead of finding a creative solution for it. Understand: when you are dealing with an ensemble of this size, made up of actors who are British and American and everything in between, you end up with a variety of accents being spoken, none of which sounds even remotely German! To say it’s distracting would be an understatement. A vocal coach might’ve worked with the actors to help them understand German phrasing patterns, speech cadences, or SOMETHING that would’ve helped them all sound like they were from at least the same country! But no such luck. You’ll either be able to put it out of your mind as you watch, or you won’t. I got over it.

Issue C) TOM CRUISE. He holds his own in the film and never gets swallowed up by the other heavyweight actors in the ensemble. His character is a stone-faced Nazi hiding a cauldron of anger and contempt behind his steely eyes, which I’ll admit is not that far of a departure from Cruise’s real-life role as a stone-faced celebrity, hiding a cauldron of anger and contempt behind his steely eyes. In the end it’s really a question of whehter or not you can look at Tom Cruise on screen without seeing the man instead of the character. Many people would likely agree that Tom should resign himself to the type of freaky antics he displayed in Tropic Thunder. Better for his career, better for the moviegoing public, I suspect.

All in all, don’t cry if you don’t catch Valkyrie in theaters. There’s always DVD.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

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TAGS: 3 star movies, valkyrie

19 Comments

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  1. I just got back from seeing this, and I think you’re a little too hard on it. It’s not Oscar good, but its considerably better than 2.5/5. It deserves at least a 3, if not more.

    Everything after the assassination attempt is, as you said, a little tedious, but I thought the ending made up for that.

    My only problem with the language thing was not the American or British accents, but the German ones, like from Thomas Krestchmann. It was the German accents that threw me off, because you can accept that Crusie and Branagh, et al, are German until you hear an actual German speak. That’s when the illusion is broken.

    Do you dislike Cruise? I thought he did a great job with what he had and I actually want to see him take the leading role again in the near future.

    This film should be a 3.5/5.

  2. @Josh

    You’re right. It deserves another half star.

  3. I saw the film too,
    and I think this review is spot on!
    and the amended 3 stars is appropriate.
    Good Job Kofi!
    I watched a History Channel special On Valkyrie and I am pretty sure Stauffenbergs name was pronounced with a CH sound in front of the T .
    So, I did find myself wondering about pronunciations during the movie,
    But like you I got over it.
    The special also said Stauffenbergs wife was initially arrested and questioned.
    Since the audience didnt know what happened to her until the end , It might hae been interesting to show her arrest.
    It could have added a little more suspense.

  4. It is difficult to create suspense in a movie where we know much of the outcome and it can be difficult to watch Tom Cruise. However, I thought Crusie did a decent job. Much better than I expected. Also, it is interesting to see the details of how the assasination attempt was carried-out and what transpired afterwards. These are details that we never learned in high school history class. Although not a must see movie, it is worth seeing. Overall, I give the movie a 3 out of 5.

  5. I don’t like Tom Cruise as a person, but his acting is pretty good in my opinion.

  6. @Gary: It’s written “ff” and pronounced [f]. Not even Schwyzerdütsch (Swiss German) would pronounce it with [ch].

    ZAR.

  7. Well , I will hae to watch the special again.
    Perhaps it was the fault of the american announcer.
    A lot of the participants in the conspiracy, those that were imprisoned not exceuted participated in the special and they spoke in german.
    I dont know any german.

  8. I am a Tom Cruise supporter. As far as I know, no psychiatrist ever speaks out of line on how sick the discipline of psychiatry is – how many friends actually take friends to psychiatrist? It’s a one way door. When I lived in Virginia as a kid, WTTG Channel 5 actually had the real film on the bunker assignation. They filmed for real in those days and kept it for release. It was the real Hitler, the bunker and about three camera angles, the stuff they had in WWII. The mirror has an eye even then. As a kid, at a residence in Virginia, an almost terror when the “Longest Day” came out, my friends in the theatre actually were for the NAZIS as a kid – you could feel it. Glad to live in California vs. acceptable hard ruled pawns.

  9. People should really stop trying to criticize Tom Cruise movies for the mere fact that he is in it. Sure, Tom Cruise is an obnoxious idiot and kind of crazy, but who the hell cares. He’s a brilliant actor and he’s movies are almost always very good. Personally I couldnt give a damn what he does in his personal life, what his beliefs are and what kind of person he is. This is precisely what’s wrong with the gossip infested paparazzi world of entertainment. This said, i’m not saying the review does this, review is fine for me, just saying, the very fact that one must bring up whether people likes Cruise or not is completely besides the point. If he’s good, he’s good.Full stop.

  10. @ Joe

    What!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  11. I saw it and I must say that I didn’t even notice Tom Cruise. Which is weird, since I often watch his movies thinking “Great! It’s Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise in a Tom Cruise film playing a character who is not named Tom Cruise.” I have to say that his performance was solid, and the supporting cast was solid. Even knowing how it was to end, I was on the edge of my seat. Mainly because it’s frustrating how close they actually got. I think that if Olbricht had not hesitated, they could have completed the coup before it was discovered that Hitler was alive. Also, the accent thing was handled brilliantly, in my opinion. It’s better just to not try an accent if you are going to do it poorly.

  12. INK, I’m asking myself the same thing…

  13. In many ways I agree, however the power of the film’s message is what struck most significant. The will of a few brave men to take down the most powerful man in Europe is inspiring if nothing else. That doing the right thing as a human being is more important than the well being of one’s self. No, Tom Cruise wouldn’t have been my first choice. Yes, I knew the plan would eventually fail. However, I too was on the edge of my seat throughout the film in anticipation for how close they came to following through with assassinating Hitler and his inner circle. I didn’t watch it to see a brilliant performance; I wanted to know what it would take to bring down evil. I found the plot itself to be the central draw.
    I’m sure if you surveyed a hundred students, the majority of them would not have been aware of this conspiracy. Even a WWII buff like me had no idea of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and his valiant conspirator’s plan and that’s what makes this movie so powerful. It reminds the public that not everyone in Germany approved of the Nazi way of life.

  14. @Ken J and INK,
    I’m with you..What the Sam Hill was that guy talking about?!
    (That is why you don’t drink and blog at the same time, you put yourself and others at risk!)

    It reminded me of a REALLY good T.V. movie.

    I was expecting yet another Cruise film where he’s upstaged by his co-stars, like Dakota Fanning, Jamie Foxx, Ken Watanabe to name a few. I was shocked and surprised at how he actually carried the film.

    In spite of the whole language thing…which SUCKED, not only for me but my group, I was amazed at the job the Cruise did in this film and I am NOT a supporter of Tom Cruise by any stretch of the imagination. Frankly, I can’t stand the little snot!

    (Ever since he threw me over for Katie my life’s never been the same!)

  15. @Joe

    Uhhh… I really don’t follow you man.

    Could you give some clarity on that?

  16. It’s painful enough for me to watch a trailer for this film I’m not sure if I can go see the full movie. Tom Cruise simply isn’t that great he has always been very mediocre and hasn’t gotten better maybe even worse. I am a big fan of Brian Singer, but this film just dosen’t look good. I can understand not doing it in German subtitles are really a big turn off for a lot of people, but with out at least accents it just ruins it for me. I mean Tom Cruise didn’t even try to have a hint of an accent straight up American accent. I’m a fan of singer, but bad casting just awful choice. Choose some real talent and actually try to make a great film seriously.

  17. LOL I am wondering what your message was Joe, and I would just like to say that crack kills, and so does this movie. Thanks for the laughs.

  18. Why in the world would you say no accents are so bad?

    I hate it when movies pull off horrible accents, who cares if they just ignore them? It makes it easier to understand and easier to build up tension.

    Imagining cruise try to pull off an accent gives me bad chills man, why dock the movie for that?

    This was a rocking movie, I don’t really see anything you could complain about besides “Oh I knew the ending” or “Oh they had no accents”

    Much better movie then you give credit for.

  19. A lot better than expected. I was wondering what they were going to do with the the accents and all, and was hesitant to see it just for that reason. Picked it up cheap today and did enjoy it. I also thought they did really good at finding people that looked like Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler…etc, etc….kinda freaky actually.