Valkyrie‘s trailer makes the film seem like it is more of a thriller than it really is. The film starts with an action scene on a German military base in Africa that gets ambushed. It is during this attack that Stauffenberg sustains his injuries. Before hand, we get a glimpse into his character and the angst he feels towards Hitler’s Germany. After this initial action sequence the movie slows down. A lot. Although the next hour and a half may move slowly, this time is used to great effect, building the major characters.
When the coup finally begins, it is the most exciting part of the movie. That’s when the movie becomes a thriller. Since this is based on a true story during World War II, the final outcome of the events is known, but the film still manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering if Stauffenberg and his crew can somehow pull it off. When the movie is in the midst of the excitement, it just fizzles and all of a sudden the action is over. For as dramatic as the actual coup is, the action abruptly ends. It’s pretty jarring.
Part of why Valkyrie is ends up being fun despite its pace is because of the cast. I recognized many faces from the Pirates of the Caribbean series (Bill Nighy, Kevin McNally, Tom Hollander, and David Schofield) and most of the cast from other films. There were only a handful of the main cast I had not seen before. The entire cast does well with their parts, but I think the stand out is Carice van Houten as Nina von Stauffenberg. Although she doesn’t have much screen time, she shows a great range of emotion to her character in what little time she is on screen.
One of my complaints with this movie is that most of the cast speaks in their normal accents rather than German accents. With several different accents prominent in the film, primarily British and American, it can be difficult to get into the German setting. In movies like K-19: The Widowmaker, the actors use accents of the country their characters’ are from (in K-19‘s case, Russian). I know it’s small but I think it adds that extra special touch to a film.
Valkyrie may not be the thriller it’s advertised to be, but it still manages to shine because of the great cast, particularly van Houten. Even though I knew the final outcome, I found myself hoping that maybe, just maybe, they could still pull it off.
Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director
Christopher McQuarrie – Writer
Nathan Alexander – Writer
John Ottman – Composer
Tom Cruise – Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg
Kenneth Branagh – Major-General Henning von Tresckow
Bill Nighy – General Friedrich Olbricht
Tom Wilkinson – General Friedrich Fromm
Carice van Houten – Nina von Stauffenberg
Thomas Kretschmann – Major Otto Ernst Remer
Terence Stamp – Ludwig Beck
Eddie Izzard – General Erich Fellgiebel
Kevin McNally – Dr. Carl Goerdeler
Christian Berkel – Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim
David Bamber – Adolf Hitler
Tom Hollander – Colonel Heinz Brandt
David Schofield – Erwin von Witzleben
Werner Daehn – Major Ernst John von Freyend
Mathias Schweighofer – Lieutenant Herber
Kenneth Cranham – Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel