In the advertising for Bryan Singer's films it is mentioned that the screenplay is "unashamedly old school" which sounds almost like an apology for a film that the powers that be feel is rather lacking in the qualities that make box-office hits for the MTV generation. But VALKYRIE needs no apologies; it is solid film-making by a director who has confidence in a strong story and, perhaps more importantly, his own ability to tell it without unnecessary technical flashes. To complain that all the characters talk with undisguised American or English acting is like complaining that actors in, say, Pasolini's CANTERBURY TALES, spoke Italian rather than middle-english. Despite the fact that we know that the July plot to kill Adolph Hitler failed and the war in Europe dragged on for another ten months, VALKYRIE succeeds superbly in maintaining suspense. Personally, while being aware of the basic details of Graf von Stauffenberg's laudable attempt to blast Der Fuhrer from the face of the war torn planet (the attempt featured in the flawed but fascinating Anatole Litvak movie THE NIGHT OF THE GENERAL) but I had no idea of the scale of the "Valkyrie" operation and how close the anti-Hitler faction came to taking over Berlin and the entire nazi goverment. Of course, this is a commercial film with a big, if somewhat short (sorry, couldn't resist it) and it needs a hero, so Von Stauffenberg is show as somewhat whiter than white. True, he was a man of religious faith and far from an enthusiastic nazi - however the question always lingers as to whether he and his fellow conspirators would have been so eager to remove Hitler if Germany had been winning.
But no matter, they tried and died and deserve credit for it. Performances throughout are fine with Tom Cruise acquitting himself well enough along with Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh and an unreconigzable Eddy Izzard. Rating ***