THRILLER; 2hr 1min
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson
Cornered: from left, Cruise and Jamie Parker
Never set out to second-guess Tom Cruise. Just when his star seemed tarnished, along came that sly turn in Tropic Thunder, and now, in a cerebral, chalk–cheese follow-up, the commercial risk-taker Valkyrie. In a performance of unerring gravity and restraint, Cruise is diehard idealist Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who spearheads a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (David Bamber) by detonating a bomb on July 20, 1944, then topple the Nazi regime using the German Reserve Army to immobilise SS officers.
Directed by X-Men’s Bryan Singer with studious attention to detail, the factually inspired drama delves proficiently into the Führer’s tightly sealed inner circle as von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators (Branagh and Nighy are fellow army rebels) hatch their treasonous scheme. It’s doomed, of course, and so are the men who engineer it, but its tensely radical mechanics are something else. What really surprises is how close the mutineers’ fatal heroics came to fruition and how far they were prepared to go in their desperate bid for a better world.