Valkyrie Bryan Singer

Valkyrie Bryan Singer
The thing about Valkyrie is not that it is necessarily good or bad, being a perfectly serviceable and respectful historical B-movie thriller, but more that there's not enough story or dramatic heft outside of the moment to sustain the demands of a feature-length narrative. Perhaps it's the fact that we all know the outcome, or the fact that no efforts were made at characterization beyond "Hitler, pro or con?" but it all feels like an above-average, Jon Amiel-helmed HBO movie starring Gary Sinise. Based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg's conspiratorial assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler during the height of WWII, the film starts out with Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) suffering a war injury, resulting in the loss of his left hand, left eye and two fingers on his right hand. Following some inter-military treason recruitment, care of Major-General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh), Stauffenberg and anti-Nazi buddy General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy) run amok within the ranks, recruiting the likes of Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp) and General Erich Fellgiebel (Eddie Izzard) to help wipe out the fuehrer. The big plot involves amending post-assassination instructions (Operation Valkyrie) to ensure that the current regime ceases to exist once the bombing of the moustached radical comes about. It all clips along at a nice pace, despite being little more than an endless series of expositional bouts with the occasional sly play on words, made clear by Singer's use of lingering dramatic close-ups, but it's probably more suited to the sensibilities of the small screen. Maybe it's the numbing effect of a new WWII movie coming out every couple of weeks but it's difficult to get involved in the outcome of the characters, presented here as two-dimensional ciphers, regardless of their historical gravity. Included with the DVD is a 15-minute promotional "Making Of" that details screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie's interest in the subject and Singer's interest in collaborating with McQuarrie, post-Usual Suspects. Two commentary tracks with variations on the Cruise, McQuarrie and Singer line-up are included as well, which are information-heavy and humour-light. Lastly, a 45-minute documentary on Claus von Stauffenberg is included, providing details the film skipped over for narrative purposes. (MGM)