10 January 2009
After some of his previous efforts, Valkyrie seems like an odd choice for Bryan Singer. No superheroes, and no crazy twist ending. In fact you already know the ending. But it's a marvel that it doesn't lessen the suspense. We know Hitler survives this assassination attempt (at least I hope you know enough about history to know that). But it's still an exciting film.
It's not a particularly great one, but it's solid. It's able to keep the audience going and move the plot without it falling apart. The performances, again, aren't Oscar material, but they move the story. And in the end that's what the movie is all about, the story. About the central fact that some Germans wanted Hitler dead. It's an important point to make, and the film's focus is admirable.
That said, there are drawbacks. The points where the film does deviate from that central purpose spoil the flow. We don't need so many diary entries by Tom Cruise's Count von Stauffenberg. We don't need to see every argument made to get people on the side of the resistance. We get the point early on: Hitler is bad and something must be done.
All in all, quite capable and satisfying for what it is. May not be remembered as one of the great war movies (a genre I've always been a little bored with) but an effective outing to the theatre. I hesitate to call it escapist, but maybe that's what it is. It doesn't break any new ground necessarily, despite the film's advertisements as "the story that has never been told...until now." It's escapist in the sense that it's an exciting suspense thriller made just that much more authentic by its historical trappings.