Thursday, December 2, 2010
Bryan Singer's thriller Valkyrie is superb, full of old fashioned appeal and historical intrigue. It stars a two-fingered, one-eyed Tom Cruise because it's intended to be a piece of entertainment, yet the movie seemed like something more to me. It's surprisingly all business and talk, with hardly a dash of humor and only a few bits of action. It tackles a dangerous subject matter and ends up being more provocative than entertaining. And that's not to degrade the film's entertainment values because it has a fluid pace and never drags. It's just that the main gain one gets from watching Valkyrie is getting a history lesson, or, if you've already studied the event, a reminder of just how shattering it all was. This is the story of Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise), who was determined to rescue Germany from Hilter's tyranny. His scheme is to use Operation Valkyrie (which comes to him while hearing Flight of the Valkyries), a complicated plan that will bring out the reserves of the German army during an emergency (Stuaffenverg hopes to gain control and set Berlin back in order). The only problem is that Hitler must be dead for this to work, so Stauffenberg devises a meticulous plan to assassinate Germany's monstrous dictator. This is apparently a well-known event, but my only awareness while I was watching the film is that Hitler was not assassinated, so obviously the plan would eventually fail. The Stauffenberg plot is a staple in High School history, so I feel a little embarrassed about my ignorance of it. But that's the great thing about movies; when you haven't learned something in school, or were fazed out when you did, they can provide you with a proper lesson. This is a serious minded movie about an integral historical event. Director Bryan Singer is a great choice as director because his movies are always trying to engage the intellect while maintaining mainstream status. He works with the facts and makes the film all business. It doesn't go beyond that, and really doesn't need to. This is a movie that I recommend.