Valkyrie (2008)


But I thought Hitler died in a movie theater explosion? Stupid Hollywood and their tricks for making up history as they go!

After permanently losing his right eye and arm, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is forced to come back to Nazi Germany, with a newfound respect from those around him, as well as a new mission on that he sets his sights on the most: Assassinating Hitler and making Germany a peaceful country once again. The problem isn’t that Hitler’s the most powerful man in Germany, whom almost nobody can double-cross and succeed at doing, but getting each and every person on the same page, so that the plot goes perfectly according to plan. There are people in high places involved, too, it’s just that they are so nervous, that they second-guess themselves so many times, that they either kill themselves, spill the beans to others, or screw up the plan while it’s going on. However, for those who are inspired to take down Hitler, they don’t back down, not even when the slightest misstep rears its ugly head. Which, during this plan, occurs many times – maybe moreso than anybody involved would have wanted. But such is the case when you’re trying to take down the powerful, almighty Führer.

First thing to mention, that is more than likely going to screw people over while watching this movie (if one decides to do so), is that every actor here, whether they be English, French, American, or, obviously, German, has to play a German character. There’s nothing different about that – heck, if an actor is called upon to do some sort of accent that isn’t of their own native-tongue, then there’s no doubt in their mind that they shouldn’t take it. However, what’s so strange here is that almost nobody in this cast, not even the German actors (as hard as they are to come by), even flirts with doing a German accent.

"So, the one Jew says to other Je-...... Oh, I mean, hey, fuck that Hitler guy, right?"
“So, the one Jew says to other Je-…… Oh, I mean, hey, fuck that Hitler guy, right?”

Perhaps the biggest criminal of this is Tom Cruise who, in the first few minutes, does a bit of German to show that he’s got the chops to be on-par with Liam Neeson in every which way; but a mere seconds later, he’s back to his original, American-dude accent that almost everybody is able to recognize right away and is distracting practically the whole way through. It makes sense if you English lads like Tom Wilkinson, or Kenneth Branagh, or even Bill Nighy in these German roles, cause at least they have an accent as is to work with, but Cruise, he has nothing. It’s just him talking, and acting like he’s Jerry Maguire all over again.

Except this time, instead of, “Show me the monaaaaay!”, it’s, “Heil Hitler!” Which, while we’re talking about it, he only does once, so relax over there ya Scientologists!

And it’s not that Cruise is bad really, it’s just that he’s playing Tom Cruise, which is neither good or bad, it’s just Tom Cruise. Especially so here, considering he doesn’t seem like he’s really trying to go for anything else other than the heroic, determined-type we’ve seen him throw himself into role, after role, after role. Nothing wrong with that, because the dude’s a pro at those types of roles, but it does get old after awhile when it seems like all you’re seeing is the same guy, play the same role, in the same kind of movie, except with different scenery around him. In this case, it’s Nazis, but honestly, throw in a scene of Cruise on the hood of a car, with that iconic track playing somewhere in the background, and you’ve practically got another Mission: Impossible movie.

Except, once again, their being Nazis and all.

The rest of the cast is fine, too, mostly because they’re easier to not be distracted by when they’re trying to sound a lick at all like German-folk, but there’s nobody here in particular that’s spectacular. Everybody’s fine and serviceable with what it is they have to do; which, most of the time, just consists of them clicking their heels, staring into space very intently, and sweating bullets, which was probably because Bryan Singer decided to douse all of them with Aquafina bottles before shooting. So yeah, that last part doesn’t count.

And speaking of Bryan Singer (all “under-aged boys parties”-jokes aside), the guy does what he can here with this material. He clearly wants to make this move, sizzle and spice like a Hitchock thriller, while at the same time, still harp on the fact that an evil man like Hitler actually existed and had immense power over thousands and thousands of people. However, what takes away from most of what Singer does here, is that it’s a story we all know the ending to. Okay, maybe not all of the little, itty, bitty, gritty details, but what we know is that the plan failed, Hitler lived, and all of those who were involved with the conspiracy theory in the first place, we’re all eventually killed anyway. So yeah, it sort of ends on a dim note, but that’s the kind of note we can expect from a movie like this, because that’s exactly what happened.

"Stop hanging out with the pirates!"
“Stop hanging out with pirates!”

It’s not like I’m saying that movies that have an ending we already know about, can’t be fun or exciting anyway possible, because they totally can. However, in order to do so, there needs to be a drive, or a certain feeling of emotion involved with the proceedings that makes us feel, even for a split-second, like this story’s outcome could happen differently than what we already know. It’s highly unlikely, but so are plots to plenty of movies; that’s why we need movies to go for the gold whenever they can, having us believe in the unbelievable, and throw all of our cards out on the table, as if we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The problem is, we know what’s going to happen next, and Singer never gives it that drive. Nor does he do much else to keep the proceedings exciting. Just by-the-numbers, by-the-books, and that’s it.

Yawn.

So in a way, I guess I have to give Singer some credit for at least sticking to history as much as he could for the film’s sake, without ever allowing it to get too boring or preachy, but at the same time, I can’t help but wonder what the point was about this whole movie. We know that it wants to show us that Hitler was a bad man and that nearly everyone close to him wanted to stab him right in the back, but it doesn’t seem like anything new; person gets on top of their throne and now all of a sudden, everybody wants to take the throne away from said person. It’s a traditional story-route we’ve seen done a hundred times before, but I guess the only real aspect of this movie that separates it from the rest is that the person in that throne is, well, Adolf Hitler.

Oh, and also Nazis.

Consensus: Both Tom Cruise’s and Bryan Singer’s intentions are noble and make Valkyrie, for the most part, interesting to watch as the plot unfolds, but the problem is that we get what happens what happens at the end, and we can’t help but not really care for these generic characters more than we need to.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"What are you talking about? These are our TPS Reports. Nothing else."
“Huh? What are you talking about? These are our TPS Reports. Nothing else.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

18 comments

  1. This one sounds interesting now but I remember avoiding it like the plague back in 2008. Why? Boring looking trailer and Tom Cruise. I tend to find him very boring and I have no idea why. However…the last film that I watched of him reminded me why. Jack Reacher was a total bore.

  2. Nice review Dan. I was so not enamoured with this. I think my other half and I got about forty to fifty minutes in and turned it off. It grated on us both, so it just wasn’t working, and I have not regretted doing that.

  3. I don’t remember what score I gave it but I do know I like it more than you. I bought into the characters completely and aside from the odd English-language, I was really invested.

  4. I like this movie as a Cruise fan, but I agree with you that it’s really not great. Your review is though!

  5. For some reason, I found this be an entertaining tale of forgotten history. It was certainly bogged down by Cruise, but besides his ‘in your face’ Scientology, I tend to like the guy.

  6. I liked how they made the switch to english – I believe it was mid-letter writing? Good point about Tom Cruise being neither good/bad but inevitably, Tom Cruise

  7. Great review, I thought this film had an interesting story, but Tom Cruise ruined it for me. He’s gotten to the point where I don’t see him playing a character, I just see Tom Cruise the actor. That was distracting.

  8. The worst casting ever!!!! The worst!!!! This was just as bad as Keanua Reeves and Winona Rider in “Dracula!” Here you have an amazingly well done film and they take a huge crap on it by putting two subpar actors who cannot do a British accent if their lives depended on it. I feel bad for Gary Oldman who did an amazing job as Dracula. Arguably the best ever. Sorry Belogosi fans. Same with Valkerie. This is a great story in history that would have made a great movie. I don’t even know if this script was good because I couldn’t concentrate on the film watching that Hollywood disaster try not to do a German accent. Horrible! Singer should be ashamed of himself casting him.

  9. You feel pretty much the same way as I about this film. Its not terrible, just sorta “meh”. And our star was totally just playing him. That’s why I like to call this one Tommy the Nazi Slayer.

  10. I read the Consensus part only for this review as I still want to check this out and not find out too terribly much about it. I want to see this and then straight after, Inglorious Basterds. Two movies which should not have escaped me, but somehow have!

  11. Cruise as a Nazi does bring us to an interesting paradox. Cruise is a bankable movie star – even if his film isn’t so special, it still puts fannies in the seats. But as Dan says, seems like where ever Cruise is – in the future, in the past, on American soil, or up in the sky jockeying a jet – he’s still Cruise, No matter how hard we look for the character – it still is Cruise, and that’s what we see and pay for.

    Isn’t this unavoidable when you’ve seen the guy in what 41 movies. I’ve seen a good many of them, and Cruise paired with Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow which opens on 06/06/14 will likely get me to part with some dead presidents as well.

    But think of this – If Valkyrie had some lesser known American in the lead, or some European actors that you didn’t know, would you have gone to see it? I did a review of Generation War – a film that took long hard look at a five specific German individuals during WWII – 2 German soldiers, a Jewish Man, and two 2 German girls. No need to worry about German accents because they were all German and the language on the audio track was German.

    My point?

    How many people saw it? How many of you have even heard of it.?

    Whereas Cruise’s film Valkyrie may not have been a blockbuster at the box office but it did take in some dollars…including mine.A total of 83, 077, 833 dollars. It’s opening weekend it did business to the tune of 21 million.

    So all the Dan wrote about this film is spot on – and yet despite an estimated 75 million dollar budget it still turned a profit. And that’s why Tom Cruise makes these films – because he knows, and we know that they will make money most of the time.

  12. I have to mention that I LOVE the way you write. Your perspective is so interesting! I’d never heard of Valkyrie and I’m pretty sure I won’t stumble on it any time soon either. I’d rather have Cruise in MI. He fits there well. Great review, Dan!

  13. The issue I had with this movie was that they seem to make it much more action orientated than I believe the original events were. The explosions at the beginning and doing things like cocking a gun off a table made this movie feel like something quite different to what the true events probably were.

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