Review: Valkyrie

Valkyrie
3.5 Lloyd’s – Not Family-Friendly
PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.

valkyrie

Many saw evil…they dared to stop it.

In a county in the grips of evil, in a police state where every move is being watched, in a world where justice and honor have been subverted, a group of men hidden inside the highest reaches of power decide to take action. A proud military man, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is a loyal officer serving his country, while at the same time hoping someone will find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany are destroyed. Realizing time is running out, the Colonel decides he must take action himself and joins the German resistance. 

Armed with Hitler’s own emergency plan, known as Operation Valkyrie, the men plot to assassinate the dictator and overthrow his Nazi government from the inside.

I really wanted to NOT like this movie…
But in the end, I came out of the theater liking it!

With The Spirit I wanted to like it, but couldn’t. With Valkyrie I didn’t want to like it, but found myself liking it. I guess the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is true. Much has been written about the problems surrounding the release of the latest Tom Cruise movie. The ever changing release date became a joke with many wondering what was really going on with the flick. But now that it’s finally hit the big screen, I think it’s surprising many people. The local theater in my town started it in one of the smaller theaters, but then moved it to a larger one because of the response.

I must admit when Valkyrie started I was sure it would be another Cruise-vanity flick. Lots of close ups on Cruise trying to make him larger than life. A few of the scenes were actually straight out of the Mission Impossible III playbook. Tight shots of his face, with his usual cardboard acting style. I thought to myself…

“Oh no! Not another 2 hours of close up shots of Cruise
trying to squeeze out a tear!”

In my mind I was already working on the review of what I figured would be a sub-par plastic-man-Cruise-flick. The Mission Impossible movies became nothing more than over-blown special effect rides showboating Cruise. Valkyrie, on the surface, appears to have the making of a repackaged Mission Impossible scenario. Then, after about a half hour, my opinion totally changed. While it’s true Tom Cruise grabs top billing, this is by no means a Cruise vanity flick. But then again, it’s here we discover the genius of director Bryan Singer. If it weren’t for Singer, it probably would have ended up being all about Cruise.

Another fascinating aspect of this movie revolves around the fact that we know how it ends. After all, this is based on a true story, and a very publicized story at that. History tells us there were 15 attempts on the life of Hitler. History tells us the attempt by Stauffenberg and his crew was the last attempt. History tell us the attempt failed. History tells us how the story ends. They all die.

But this is much more than just a retelling of history.

Singer needs to be applauded because Valkyrie, unlike many based on true story movies, is more than just a spectator sport. Often based on true story flicks keep you as a spectator along for the ride. But Valkyrie manages to place you directly in the midst of the plot to kill Hitler. Once you get past the first half hour or so, it’s like the movie suddenly takes off in a direction you never expected for a Tom Cruise flick. The scriptwriting is wonderful and many times Singer was smart enough to let the dialogue stand alone. This of course adds to the sense of suspense as the murder plot moves along. Other than the fact that Tom Cruise does not know how to project from time to time making his lines hard to hear, the script moves along quite well. 

In the end, this is not just an historical account about the final attempt on Hitler’s life. It’s not even all about Stauffenberg and the others who plotted the assassination attempt. Instead, the main focus of Valkyrie tells the story that Hitler did not speak for all of Germany. Some did not like what he was doing. One standout line in the movie declares the central purpose of the movie when Colonel Stauffenberg says…

“We have to show the world that not all of us were like him.”

All in all, Valkyrie is a well done movie. I’m sure there are some historical issues along the way. But, for the most part, it does stick to the historical account of what took place quite well. The special effects are well done, and for a 2 hour movie, it moves along at a good pace. It actually moves by rather quickly. When I did look at my watch, I was somewhat surprised that the movie was almost done!

Of course it’s not family-friendly, and we once again discover the need for another rating. This is not for the early teen years crowd. But, for the older teens, say 16 and up, Valkyrie provides a great avenue to enjoy a good movie, and learn a few things about history along the way too.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.