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The Blue & Gray Press | November 20, 2017

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'Valkyrie' Best Left to History Books

BY ALEX CULBRETH

“Valkyrie” is the new thriller based on the true story of the attempted assassination to kill Adolf Hitler.  Although the film works with an intriguing premise, the final product pales in comparison to the overall concept.

Directed by Bryan Singer, best known for directing the “X-Men”movies, “Valkyrie” centers around Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise), a German officer who leads the coup of other like-minded German officers to assassinate Hitler.

On July 20, 1944, Stauffenberg, with the assistance of the other members of the coup, transport a bomb inside of a briefcase into the meeting room filled with SS officers and Adolf Hitler, himself.  Stauffenberg manages to retreat from the military base as the bomb explodes in the distance.

Believing that Hitler is dead, Stauffenberg proceeds to take command of the German Army reserves in Berlin and to immobilize the high-ranking SS officers.  Although the audience is fully aware that Adolf Hitler is still alive, “Valkyrie” still manages to provide much suspense as Nazi officials are arrested, Hitler is supposedly dead, and all appears to be going as planned.

It is not until Hitler’s strained voice, from a Berlin hospital, is broadcasted over the radio that members of the coup begin to flee for fear of the treason they have committed.  Stauffenberg, along with the other high-ranking German officers involved in the coup, are captured and assassinated.  There ends history’s most famous plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

“Valkyrie” has a wonderful cast of supporting actors.  Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, and David Bamber, in his chilling role as Adolf Hitler, all greatly provide to the perpetuation of suspense throughout the film.  But however talented the supporting cast, audiences are typically more interested in the performance of “Valkyrie’s” leading man, Tom Cruise.

Cruise provides an adequate depiction of Col. Claus von Stauffenberg.  His matter-of-fact portrayal of the German officer fits with the character, but Cruise fails to completely draw the viewer in and to allow the audience to connect with Stauffenberg.

Director Bryan Singer also failed to allow a hint of a German accent to be uttered by any of the main German officers.  Cruise discusses the plan to assassinate Hitler in an unadulterated American accent, while Branagh and Nighy reply in their respective English accents.
Although thrills and suspense are present throughout the film, there is a definite lack of the amount that one would expect from a film about the secret plot to kill Adolf Hitler and to regain control of the German army.

“Valkyrie” relays its story in a respectable, yet mediocre presentation.  The outstanding performances of the supporting cast are somewhat cast into the shadows by Cruise’s merely passable portrayal of Col. Claus von Stauffenberg.

The real-life story is unforgettable, but the film fails to leave a permanent impression.  The story of the brave men who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler is much more striking and thrilling in the pages of history than on the silver screen.