3 out of 5 stars

In Valkyrie, we’re supposed to root for a group of Nazis who are less mean than the ones in power—Nazis who would eliminate Hitler because he’s a “shame” on Germany. You’ll get no arguments here, but this runs counter to decades of enjoyable hissing at the movies. As a result, director Bryan Singer leans heavily on the mechanics of the real-life 1944 plot, hoping we won’t notice those swastikas so much. A bomb is tucked neatly into a bottle of cognac. Later, a bald munitions expert (Germany’s purring Christian Berkel) demonstrates the workings of a briefcase fuse. Will our hero, the wounded Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise), be able to squeeze the trigger with only three working fingers? Pretend you don’t know the ending.

How is Tom Cruise? Never a natural stoic, he’s always better when crumbling into histrionics (Magnolia). The dimensions of Von Stauffenberg’s global heroism must have appealed to him, but Cruise has committed to playing an enormous square, a Nazi who telephones his wife a lot. When Valkyrie tightens the screws like a poor man’s Munich, it’s decent enough. But what I wouldn’t have paid to see the Cruise of Tropic Thunder pull off another brilliant cameo, raging in his bunker behind the button mustache.


Release details

Release date:
Thursday December 25 2008
120 mins

Cast and crew

Bryan Singer
Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Crowley
Tom Cruise
Bill Nighy
Kenneth Branagh
Eddie Izzard
Tom Wilkinson
Carice van Houten
Thomas Kretschmann
Terence Stamp
Christian Berkel