Valkyrie is a 2008 thriller based on a true story – the last of fifteen known attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler. It boasts a superb cast and is thoroughly watchable. I didn’t know the details of the story, and was fascinated to learn how close the conspirators came to success with their daring and courageous plan.
The leading character is Colonel von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise. Hostile to Hitler, and the barbaric ways of the Nazis, he is badly injured while serving in North Africa. He returns to Germany to join a conspiracy to bring the tyrannical rule of the dictator to an end. The plotters are played by a galaxy of stars, including Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp and Bill Nighy, while Tom Wilkinson’s character equivocates, trying to figure out which side it’s safest to be on.
You know how it is all going to end, but – as with The Day of the Jackal – the journey towards the final conclusion is made engrossing by the story-teller’s art. As with Frederick Forsyth’s first and best novel, the description of the way events unfold is done with great skill and the characterisation, although economical, is effective.
The director is Bryan Singer, and the writer Christopher McQuarrie (with Nathan Alexander) and the same partnership was responsible for that brilliant and ingenious crime thriller The Usual Suspects. Valkyrie is not as memorable as the earlier film, but is nevertheless interesting as well as entertaining.