I remember a skit from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” in which a Jewish comedian was going through a calendar of events in December and referred to December 25 as “National Jews go to the movies day.”   Assuming that the adage that there is truth in jest holds true, the idea of a movie about trying to kill Hitler opening on Christmas Day brings a bit of a smile to my face.

Staring Tom Cruise (Top Gun, Vanilla Sky) and directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) “Valkyrie” is the true story of an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler from within the Nazi regime.

My first reaction to hearing that Bryan Singer had a new film was to wonder if he will redeem himself for that abomination called “Superman Returns” (Review).  While not quite X-Men it is an improvement.  Singer has used the cultural significance of the Holocaust to set up the Magneto Character in X-Men, fully explores WWII Germany in this film. 

Singer moves the film quite well, keeping you entertained for two hours. There are little to no dull moments, and while you find yourself rooting for the German coup, that history teacher in the back of your mind keeps telling you otherwise.

As opposed to your typical WWII film where the German’s are the bad guys, here it is the Germans who are the protagonists and but the Nazi’s remain the bad guys. The film almost comes off as a defense of Germany.

In the opening scene, the only scene with spoken German, Col Claus Von Stauffenberg (Cruise) is writing in his journal, while stationed in North Africa, of his personal and moral objections to Hitler’s conquest and the deaths he has caused.  The Nazi camp is attacked and Stauffenberg is injured, but not fatally. Instead he gets to sport a cool eye patch throughout most of the film.

Stauffenberg then joins a group of people looking to out Hitler as fuehrer of Germany and end the war. It is Stauffenberg who formulates the plan that in order to reclaim Germany, Hitler will have to be killed first.

At this point the movie becomes an elaborate yet historical heist film.   To this point at time the movie feels like Ocean’s Eleven.  However that is only part of Valkyrie, not its whole.  Of course, anyone with any sense of historical context knows that Vakyrie will fail.  But much like Titanic you are there for the ride, not the destination.

Cruise’s performance is typical Cruise.  He’s the good looking hero who does not bring as much emotion to the film but does get a lot of free press. I cannot help but wonder how much better a film this would be with Russell Crowe in the lead role.

The rest of the cast does quite well, and while Crusie sucks up most of the screen time in the film, he will unfortunately overshadow his fellow actors here also.  Suffice it to say that they do a great job carrying the film when it gets too heavy for Cruise. 

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