Sunday, 31 January 2010

Film Review: VALKYRIE (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer
Running time: 114 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 12

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 31st January 2010.


This film tells the story of a failed attempt on the life of the German leader during World War II, Adolf Hitler. The attempt was not made by the Allies, but rather people within his own military. So the setting is Germany, towards the end of World War II in 1944 where a group of men have decided they have had enough and want to salvage what they can before Germany falls to the imminent allied invasion.

We begin in North Africa, where a German Colonel, Claus von Stauffenberg has orders to march on, but is more interested in saving the lives of his troops. Unfortunately their column is attacked and he is badly injured, losing a hand, some fingers from the other hand and an eye. On his return to Germany, he is stationed at military HQ in Berlin. Here he is approached by Major-General Henning von Tresckow and General Friedrich Olbricht to join them in their plot to assassinate Hitler. He agrees, but finds some of their other conspirators, being non-military, not to his liking. Eventually he comes up with a plan to use ‘Operation Valkyrie’ to secure Berlin after Hitler has been killed. The plan relies on the cooperation of General Friedrich Fromm, who is loyal to Hitler. They decide to go ahead anyway, and re-write Valkyrie to suit their purposes. Von Stauffenberg is given the job of getting Hitler to sign the order, which he eventually does. With everything seemingly in place, they just have to carry out the assassination. This is where things start to go wrong for the conspirators. I will leave it there; I don’t want to give too much away now…

A very well made film with an excellent cast, plenty of excitement that kept me enthralled throughout. I guess, because it was based on real events, and I knew the eventual outcome, it took away some of the mystery from the story. Very good performances from all of the leading cast, Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, Kenneth Branagh as Major-General Henning von Tresckow, Bill Nighy as General Friedrich Olbricht, Tom Wilkinson as General Friedrich Fromm, Carice van Houten as Nina von Stauffenberg, Thomas Kretschmann as Major Otto Ernst Remer, Terence Stamp as Ludwig Beck and Eddie Izzard as General Erich Fellgiebel.

Over all, quite an exciting film if you don’t know the eventual outcome, though the excitement is tempered somewhat if you do. Some excellent performances, in particular a mention for Tom Cruise, who put in one his best IMHO. Also, it’s nice to see a World War II film from the German point of view for a change.

My score: 7.4/10

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