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There comes a time for every teacher of history in his life that he’ll have to cope with the fact that Tom Cruise is playing in a historical movie that he’ll want to see. Crap.
I’m a bit done with Tom Cruise and the whole mythos he has apparently created around himself. I couldn’t care less about his dysfunctional brain and his dumbass scientology buddies. They can do all the Xeno hunting they want and pay money to whatever imaginary president they like. I don’t care. I live on the sensible side of the Atlantic. Sort off.
But here he is. Muscling his way into our cinemas, playing a German. Tom ‘ Top Gun’ Cruise is playing a German. A freaky german too as he seems to possess the power to make his lower arm grow 10 inches after he loses a hand and making his lost two fingers appear and disappear again at will! Clearly, Tom has entered the realm of irrelevant useless magical powers here. What’s gonna be his next trick? Making his eye move despite the fact that according to the movie it is made of glass?
Anyhow, this movie does boast one of the greatest stories of the entire second world war and Tom Cruise can’t change that. Thankfully.
It starts with a kickass scene of brutal violence in Africa as king Theoden is gunned down by allied fighter planes. Colonel von Stauffenberg (the magical Tom Cruise) sees this as a final straw and decided the war has to end and Adolf Hitler has to die. He’s not discouraged by the fact that dozens of people before him have attempted this and all have failed. He joins a secret plot by politicians and generals to kill Hitler and engage an emergency plan to maintain the state and take over. The plan is named operation Valkyrie, probably because of the sheer awesomeness of mythical Valkyries. Stauffenberg is a key element in this plan because he can get close to Hitler.
History tells us that the plan went horribly wrong and despite fate’s best efforts Hitler survived the attack and would eventually go on to kill himself as the Soviets come knocking on his door. The man survived 15 attempts on his life since he came to power. I know this can be considered a spoiler but if you don’t know Hitler killed himself you’re probably not part of my target audience anyway and need to go away. Right now.
Its a plan for a door. Build one and use it.
Despite the overwhelming Cruise factor in this movie I still liked it. The sheer desperation of all the men involved in the plot comes off really well and there is a palpable sense of joy as they find out the hit was a success (which later proves unjustified). The movie is in English but it started in German. Via voice over a smooth transition is made to English which didn’t bother me as much as I’d expected. Language only becomes a problem as Germans and Americans actually meet in a movie. There’s nothing more stupid then watching people talking to each other in the same bloody language and pretending to not understand one another. Valkyrie is an American movie, not a German one. If you wanted it to be German then go and tell the Germans to make more movies. We know they can do it. Der Untergang ruled. Why can’t they make more of those?
The main issue with valkyrie is not the language. Its that very few of the actors make convincing nazi’s. They’re to friendly for me. Even Goebbels and Hitler came off as essentially very likeable men even when Hitler went into a rage. His voice was way to friendly and didn’t remind me in anything about what we know of his real voice. Also, the movie tells almost nothing about Stauffenberg’s motitivations to risk it all and have the fuhrer killed. What did he see or what was he forced to do that changed his mind from loyal officer to supreme chief killer? It’s a real shame that the movie doesn’t tell us anything about these motivations as they’re the core of the point its trying to make, that not all Germans were bad in the war. A point lost if we don’t know why they turned on Hitler. Nazi's need to be goddamn evil!
I was pleased to see Carice van Houten as Stauffenberg’s wife as she’s been my favourite Dutch actress ever since Paul Verhoeven used here in one of his deranged war/pussy/tittie movies accidentally also set in WW2. Unfortunately she doesn’t get to do much except play the loyal wife, throw a few kisses and take the kids to Bamberg as daddy goes to kill the fuhrer. Nothing about how she feels under all this and nothing more but a few romantic suggestions. I’m usually not one to mention romance in a movie but this one probably could have used a little live side story if only to make Stauffenberg a bit more human.
This movie has a great story and good actors to tell it. The problems lie with the relative lack of depth to the characters. Its to shallow. I know these are not comments that can usually be found in one of my reviews but hey, I can raise my standards every now and then. Right?
For my next review:
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