Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Rule #1 Of Management dictates that there must be one person to blame (or at least to blame most). In 'Valkyrie's case, it is director Brian Singer, who has chalked up a singular accomplishment: to make a film about blowing up Hitler boring.

Arrrrrrrr. I shouldn't have passed on Jack Sparrow.

Tom Cruise cannot be blamed, as, like the missile which shares his name, his course cannot be altered once he is in flight. The formula beneath the Nazi regalia and eyepatch is identical to that girding all his hit roles: handsome, embattled underdog saves the day while grimacing.
But Brian Singer has done better. 'The Usual Suspects', for one. Even 'Apt Pupil' was a nuanced view of--guess what--Nazis. But the Singer who directed (and wrote) 'X-Men' and 'X2' orchestrated the ride of 'Valkyrie' directly off a cliff.
It is one thing to make a bad film, but unforgivable to drag two perfectly good actors into the proceedings in the name of ensemble casting. Kenneth Branagh and Tom Wilkinson should never have been exposed to dreck of this magnitude. On the other hand, Bill Nighy has long since spent his respectable-actor capital on vampire and Xmas films, and Eddie Izzard seemed delighted just to be wearing men's clothes.
Apart from being dull, dreary and overcast in a pall of expensive-serious-movie lighting, the film commits the grevious sin of unrepentent self-righteousness. Cruise's character's wife (complete with Child One and Child Two) moves and emotes as though the invisible book on her head may topple at any time. Period piece dramas--I'm looking at you, 'Remains of the Day'--can get away with this through unflaggingly strong acting. 'Valkyrie' cannot. It is underplayed and overblown, hitting every false note on the scale.

Worth seeing at the cinema: No
Worth downloading: No
Better alternative: 'Conspiracy' (2001) has Branagh as a Nazi (honestly, he's done this at least four times), with Stanley Tucci in an ice-cold Eagle's Nest meeting about the Final Solution.

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