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Valkyrie Movie Review, Tom Cruise

Valkyrie: Shallow and Underwhelming

While there are a zillion World War II movies out there already, I kept an open mind going into the Tom Cruise star vehicle Valkyrie. Sure, this is a movie that has been dogged by bad press from start to finish (even due, in part, to the fact that Cruise is a Scientologist) but I can see that there is a fascinating movie to be made out of a German resistance movement involving Nazi officers in Adolf Hitler's inner circle.

High-ranking, aristocratic officers attempting to assassinate Hitler? There's so much to explore here! Were these men heroes? Or was it a desperate and calculated power grab when it was clear the Germans were losing the war? What did these men know about the mass murders of Jews that had taken place and when did they know it? Did any of them, including Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) who led one of the most daring plots to kill Hitler, have a genuine crisis of conscience? And if so, what does that kind of moral awakening look like?

In a war that is often depicted very starkly as good vs. evil, within the German rank and file there were shades of gray and this makes for interesting psychological thriller fodder for sure. So why did Cruise and director Bryan Singer forego that kind of film in favor of a totally reductive, shallow, glossy, big-budget flick that will leave you feeling underwhelmed and a little icky because you just spent over an hour rooting for Nazis? I really don't know, but let's talk about it. Just


First of all, I'm a little baffled at how little characterization exists in this movie. We are asked to very simply and easily accept these men as heroes and root for them when they are Nazis, for Pete's sake. Just trying to kill Hitler and place yourself and your pals into power isn't quite enough to make us care. And at times it's hard to root for people you know are going to fail because — spoiler alert? — Hitler survives the assassination attempt and World War II continues on.

The whole experience is confusing to say the least. For example, in the opening scene we see Cruise on the ground in Africa fighting on behalf of Hitler's Germany when the "enemy" (that would be the Allied forces fighting to stop Hitler from totally destroying Europe) airplanes zoom in to launch an air strike and bodies go flying everywhere. Instinctively my sympathy went toward the soldiers on the ground, but then. . . aren't these Nazis? Who am I rooting for here? And why?

My fundamental issues with the filmmakers' approach aside, the real question is: Is it entertaining popcorn cinema? And in my opinion the answer is no, not really. It's not the laugh-riot some thought it might be (Cruise, Nazis, eye-patch, ya know) thanks in part to a solid cast that props the movie up, including Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Eddie Izzard. It's not a very satisfying experience that fails to keep viewers on the edges of their seats, save the moment when Cruise's character attempts to plant a bomb quite literally under Hitler's feet. There's also a nicely executed political coup late in the movie that is captivating to watch — an example of the potential this movie had.

Finally, at the center of this wannabe-blockbuster is one of the most self-conscious performances of Cruise's career in which he takes all that burning intensity he so often brings to the silver screen and buries it away. I've read that part of Stauffenberg's heroism was his ability to recruit others to his cause based on sheer charisma and charm. Never would have guessed that from this portrayal.

Photos courtesy of MGM

bella85 bella85 8 years
I agree with CaterpillarGirl. Not every movie is about rooting for the characters... And why do you write "spoiler alert"? Do you want to tell me that the Americans don't know how Hitler died in the end?!
kafarine-tin-tin kafarine-tin-tin 8 years
I agree with halfbakedjake. I didn't feel bad for rooting for the Nazi's because I got that the film was trying to make me see that Stauffenberg was better than that, despite what is actually true. Really, I went to the movies for a bit or entertainment and I think this gave it to me. I thought it was supsenful and emotional.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
As for the come no one is complaining that the UK actors didn't do a German accent? No one in the film does accents...other than their natural ones. I do think there should have been accent continuity, but that would mean the upper british would have to go as well.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
"Buzz you are right on with this movie review. I refuse to see it..." How can you say someone is right on with their review when you HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE? :? IMO, Tom has jumped the shark. He has become so much of a "celebrity" that it doesn't allow the audience to buy into him as a character. I think it is a good story, I think Singer is a good director, I just think that having Tom and company produce and star in it was a bad idea. He is a distraction to the story, when actors are supposed to BE the story.
Black-Velveteen Black-Velveteen 8 years
Wow, I love all the ppl here who watch the History Channel too ;). I also saw 41 Ways To Kill Hitler and the whole assassination attempt picqued my interest to learn more about this failed plot. When I first saw the previews for Valkyrie, I really wanted to see it, I was even willing to give TC a chance. But like a previous poster mentioned, I just could not get past Tom's modern day American accent. I mean, he could have have a tried somewhat to make his portrayal of Claus von Stauffenberg momre credible if he did. I still like him as a actor, but I think he was way over his head on this choice. Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson were nothing short of superb :)
CocoChic CocoChic 8 years
I saw 41 Ways to Kill Hitler on the History Channel too and I thought this was pretty interesting sounding. I hate Cruise and he looks ridiculous with the eye patch but I'll probably see this movie.
kristints kristints 8 years
I had seen the story of this guy in the documentary 41 Ways to Kill Hitler, which was very interesting, so, when I heard about this film, I was really excited, but after all the negative press, I don't think I'll be going to see it. Too bad they didn't do this story justice. PS, it's Adolf, not Adolph. =)
tngirly tngirly 8 years
I really liked the movie and think it brought the resistance movement to light and I hope that it will spur people to learn about the MANY Germans who found ways to resist Hitler's plan or try to work in counter-intelligence. I do believe that these men were heroic and although the movie could not paint ALL sides it was important to see a piece of the story that is so easily forgotten!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Obviously someone went in with a bias, and didnt get what the movie was trying to say intellectually. I thought it was an amazing movie, interesting story, good performances, mainly because I understand history and humanity. You dont go into a movie like this, or watch movies like "Das Boot" or "it came upon a midnight clear" or "shindlers list" , "letters from Iwo Jima", "Tora Tora Tora", Or ANY MOVIE where a depiction of the "enemy" is in a realistic light and say "We are asked to very simply and easily accept these men as heroes and root for them when they are Nazis, for Pete's sake!"
sofico sofico 8 years
I agree with this review, I think the movie did not exploit all the potential conflicts that were to be shown, such as the moral conflict that led Stauffenberg plot the assassination. However, as halfbakedjake, pointed not all Germans were Nazis. First, being a Nazi was to belong to that political party. Before Hitler came to power, there were two main parties in Germany, the socialist party and the Nazi party. Hitler, then, became the chancellor of Germany and the head of the army, but it didn´t mean that the military forces belonged to that political party. However, the army forces as in all countries had to be loyal to the leader, in this case Hitler. No member from the German Resistance were Nazis. The concentration camps were mostly run by the SS not by the army itself. The German Resistance were really made by civilians but they later contacted the army forces. I mostly believe that the reasons behind this rebellion were mostly to save Germany from destruction, and not mainly for the people that were in the concentration camps, what it's worth is that they fought for what they think was right at the expense of their own lives and risking their families lives too. That is not something really easy to do. Anyways, I watched the screening of the movie, and I think the story is better told in the German TV version, Stauffenberg with Sebastian Koch as Stauffenberg.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
I didn't expect Popsugar to give a positive Tom Cruise review whatsoever. It's a foregone conclusion.
outofhere outofhere 8 years
I can't see anything with Tom Cruise in it these days, especially this movie.
Kaysnowboarder Kaysnowboarder 8 years
Buzz you are right on with this movie review. I refuse to see it because these men never found any fault with the nazi philosophy nor where they repentant for the millions that died at the behalf of the Nazi's. This is only about trying to save face for Germany and not about stopping the holocaust. It is a travisty and I know many people that refuse to see it. Any respect for Tom Cruise as an Actor or the Director have been lost and I will never go to another film of theirs again. One last note - the filmmakers could have shown the true story of how these men where part of the evil regime called the Nazi's and how thier embarrassment of Hitler and the war's ending drove them to this plot. Not to turn them into heroes to try and make the big budget Hollywood film. They really must think we do not know our history and the consumer will buy anything they dish up. Not so. Thanks Buzz!
Allyace Allyace 8 years
I'm sorry, maybe it is wrong, but all I see when I watch a preview for this movie is crazy Tom Cruise in an eye patch. I've seen a few movies he has been in during ht elast few years and I just can't get passed the crazy.
misshouston misshouston 8 years
The best description I read was "Tom Cruise playing Jerry McGuire playing Claus von Stauffenberg." This is the worst act of hubris since Ishtar, one that places Mr. Cruise one step closer to the obscurity that he seems determined to achieve.
halfbakedjake halfbakedjake 8 years
"will leave you feeling underwhelmed and a little icky because you just spent over an hour rooting for Nazis" I think you missed the major point of the movie. The conspirators featured in this movie were trying to prove that not all Germans were Nazis; and yes, these military men were in Hitler's army. But even though they saw the obvious end to the war coming, they chose not to wait for it to happen but to take a stand and show the world not all Germans were evil. This movie wasn't trying to get you to root for Nazis, it was trying to get you to root for humanity over evil.
NouraBee NouraBee 8 years
(L) him as an actor But im not historic war movies !
Lukin Lukin 8 years
I honestly like Tom Cruise and think he's a decent actor, but he doesn't have much range, something a film like this needs.
wednesday_adams wednesday_adams 8 years
I refuse to see this movie, mostly because Cruise can't be bothered to try and fake an accent. I can't get over the fact that he sounds decidedly American in the middle of all these talented and accent-attempting actors. Ugh.
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