Based on a the true story of cadre of Nazi officers who grew to oppose Hitler's murderous pursuits and made several attempts to kill him in the late stages of WWII, VALKYRIE features a top-flight cast, with drama and suspense in equal measure. The film is a stylistic departure for director Bryan Singer (X-MEN, X2) and star Tom Cruise, with a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) and Nathan Alexander that is constructed like a heist film, with a team of like-minded men coming together for a common purpose and facing incredible odds. It is 1943, and though he has come to be disgusted by Hitler's campaign of evil, Count Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) has risen to the level of lieutenant colonel in the German army. Convinced that Hitler must die, Von Stauffenberg requests a transfer to Tunisia, where he loses his left eye and right hand during an Allied air raid. Falling in with a group of similarly disillusioned officers including Major General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh), General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy), General Friedrich Fromm (Tom Wilkinson), and Colonel General Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp), Stauffenberg is at the center of several attempts on Der Fuhrer's life, culminating in a bombing that kills a handful of his officers and leaves Hitler only slightly injured.
Though advance photos of Cruise in Nazi uniform brought VALKYRIE negative publicity, his restrained performance is at the heart of this well-crafted, thinking person's action movie. He is bolstered by an incredible British cast including Branagh, Stamp, and Wilkinson, and by the film's dazzling art direction. Though it's a story to which viewers should already know the ending, Singer still creates ample suspense. The result is a taut and effective historical thriller.
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