Review: Valkyrie

07 Apr 14

Where are the Germans?

Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a Wehrmacht official who loses his left eye, right hand, and a couple of fingers on his left, after him and his troops are attacked by an air raid in Tunisia. He is evacuated back to Munich, where his wife, Nina (Carice van Houten), is waiting for him. After recovery, he is recruited by General Friedrich Olbricht into the German Resistance. It’s here he meets other German officials and discusses with them a plot to assassinate Hitler, initiate Operation Valkyrie, accuse the SS of staging a coup, arrest all SS, Gestapo and Nazi officials, all the while officiating their own coup which will grant them power over Germany. Simple as that.

The first thing you will notice is that the dialogue is not in German, nor are the characters played by German actors. Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard and numerous other English and American actors fill out the cast. Even Adolf Hitler himself is portrayed with a deep, brooding English accent. Although, for me, it did not seem unrealistic or bizarre in anyway, the film would have definitely benefited from the characters speaking their should-be natural dialect. Valkyrie could have been an epic, historal war film. Instead it’s a safe, conventional B-movie that’s borderline neo-noir.

The actors in this film deserve some credit though. I understand it must be hard to portray a German official whilst speaking english with a thick English/American accent, but thanks to fantastic production and costumes, Tom Cruise plays his character with suave and confidence. One actor who caught my eye was Jamie Parker. Parker plays Werner von Haeftena, an adjuntant to von Stauffenberg who sticks by his side during the assassination attempt on Hitler, right until he literally takes a bullet for von Stauffenberg, in a heartwarming display of loyalty. Parker plays the most convincing German of the lot. He is only young, but his face shows bravery and austerity, and he is arguably the most likable character out of the Resistance.

The script is intelligent and engaging, although it never takes any risks. The actors, especially Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Jamie Parker and Eddie Izzard, are all talented enough to make the absence of German accent and dialect not seem ridiculous. Valkyrie is a good film, but perhaps it would have been better had German actors starred in it.