Monday, January 19, 2009

"Valkyrie" (2008)

I think I finally have Bryan Singer figured out.
Regardless of all the super-hero films, he very badly wants to be a latter-day Alfred Hitchcock. He has all the elements here, Nazi villains, a suspense driven caper and the usual collection of kibbitzers at the edge of the action.
And if that is Singer's ambition, then clearly Tom Cruise wants to be a sort of end-times Cary Grant a minimalist forced into the crucible of great events. Such is the plot of Valkyrie which features a stoic heroic Cruise as the real life Colonel Claud von Stauffenberg who came within an ace of assassinating Hitler in 1944.
As I said, Cruise is a minimalist and that suits the flamboyant material nicely, he seethes a bit but declines to play the crusading martyr. I think that was a good decision on his part, the story is dramatic enough in all it's particulars.
THe rest of the cast is tight and for once, a American film ends on a suitably unhappy note...right down to Stauffenberg being stood up against a wall and shot.
Being a stylistic descendant of Gary Cooper it was scene that Cruise was aching to play all his professional life and what the hell he does it justice.

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