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:: Valkyrie

You better believe it, Tom Cruise is back! He is actually back at his brilliant best because ‘Valkyrie’ will go down as one of the films of the year. In fact it would be a crime for me not to describe this film as brilliant, terrific and even ‘one of the best films ever made’. It is literally impossible to find fault with a film that is an absolute masterpiece.

‘Valkyrie’ tells the story of Colonial Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) a Colonial in the German Army during World War II who becomes disheartened with the Nazi Party and in particular the views of Adolf Hitler (David Bamber). Stauffenberg is asked to join a group of Nazis including Major-General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh) and General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy). Despite the risk to his wife, Nina (Carice van Houten) and knowing that if caught he would be killed, Stauffenberg accepts the groups offer and soon becomes the mastermind of a plot to kill Hitler and overthrow the Nazi Party.

‘Valkyrie’ is a sensational film that reminds the world that there is more to director, Bryan Singer than a ‘superhero-movie’ director. People seem to forget that before ‘X-Men’ and ‘Superman Returns’ Singer had directed films such as ‘The Usual Suspects’. With ‘Valkyrie’ we see Singer take the next step and show that he can produce a visually stunning period piece that doesn’t rely on dialogue to move its story along. Singer also seems to bring the best out of talented actors like Terence Stamp, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh and, of course, Tom Cruise.

Acting-wise ‘Valkyrie’ is superb. There are a lot of people out there who were really wanting to see Tom Cruise fall flat on his face with this film, but they will be greatly disappointed as in the role of van Stauffenberg, Cruise reminds us why he has been an Oscar nominated actor in the past. In fact while watching the film you soon forget that you are even watching Cruise as he makes the role his own. The most telling thing about Cruise’s performance is that he manages to match the performances of experienced performers such as Stamp, Branagh and Wilkinson; no easy feat considering these seasoned veterans are at their brilliant best here.

‘Valkyrie’ also manages to keep a sense of mystery and suspense despite the fact, as many people have pointed out, you know that this assassination attempt on Hitler was a failure as history tells this isn’t where he dies. That may be the case but ‘Valkyrie’s’ script makes this a personal story in which you are more interested in whether those behind the plot (and their families) will escape Germany after the foiled plot. A stroke of genius from the screenwriters involved.

An absolute-must-see for lovers of great films, ‘Valkyrie’ has the ability to have you on the edge-of-your-seat while educating you on a part of World War II history that most don’t even know existed. A visually beautiful film that doesn’t forget that the most important ingredient in film-making is characterization.