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January 04, 2009

Valkyrie Review *No Spoilers Beyond the Bleedin' Obvious*

I went in with few expectations, except for knowledge of how it ends and a general dislike for Tom Cruise. We saw Valkyrie because the other movies out right now look horrible. In other words, I was looking for some escapism and that's exactly what I got.

The Good: overall, it was an okay way to spend an evening. It was suspenseful, even though we know how it ultimately must end, and it was beautifully filmed. Of course, I loved the World War II-era vehicles, guns, and gadgets. The acting was adequate; that is, it was noteworthy only because it was not noteworthy (this is a good thing for Cruise).

The Bad: no villain. Of course, the conspiracy is assembled to kill Hitler and take over the German government. But Hitler is not the film's villain. It has no villain, other than the amorphous Nazi establishment that largely goes unseen. For the conspirators, the enemy is anyone not part of the conspiracy. For the first two-thirds of the picture this is fine, since the viewer gets wrapped up in the paranoia and suspense of the characters.

But the viewer is left without anyone to root against once the conspiracy begins to fall apart. After the viewer knows that the conspiracy has failed (although not all of the characters do), all that is left is a "wrapping-up" section of the picture, where the inevitable must happen and does. The conspirators are scrambling around like mad to make something out of their little coup, but the viewer knows that this is ultimately pointless and it is, therefore, boring. An actual villain for them to strive against to the bitter end would have solved this problem.

The verdict: It's a thriller, not a drama, so don't expect much character development. Also, don't expect inspection of the issues of treason or patriotism. What it does have is excitement, suspense, and gorgeous cinematography.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 02:02 PM

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