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Valkyrie DVD Review

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DVD Stars Tom Cruise as Disgruntled Nazi Who Tried to Assassinate Hitler

Although there were reportedly 15 attempts on the life of Adolf Hitler, unfortunately none of them succeeded. So, don't expect a whole lot of suspense from this tortoise-paced thriller about the last of those ill-fated coup attempts, the one hatched by Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) on July 20, 1944.

As a trusted colonel in the German army, the disenchanted aristocrat had an opportunity to get close enough to the Fuhrer to kill him. And the devout Catholic was inclined to assassinate him because of his disgust for the Holocaust.

This slow as molasses story establishes that von Stauffenberg returned from the front a war hero after taking a bullet to his left eye and losing his right hand and three fingers on his left while fighting in Tunisia in 1942. While recovering from his wounds, he was approached by members of the Resistance who wanted him to participate in an intricate plot code-named Operation Valkyrie. Klaus agreed to sneak a time bomb into a meeting in Hitler's bunker before hightailing it out of there, but guess who would survive the blast while four of his officers did perish?

Directed by Bryan Singer, the film suffers from an absence of tension for two reasons. #1: You know the ending, and Hitler committed suicide nine months later, anyway. #2: Actors playing Nazis sporting English and American accents are hard to take seriously. (Hey Bryan, the last time I checked the Yanks and the Brits were the good guys.) What's wrong with the much-preferred approach taken by Hogan's Heroes, which had the bad guys speaking in a very guttural German pidgin patois?

If a Sixties TV sitcom can afford a decent voice coach, why not a supposedly serious historical bio-pic? That mystery is far more compelling than waiting two hours for a fait accompli that is common knowledge. An interminable costume drama strictly for Tom Cruise fans and for World War II buffs.

Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and brief profanity.
In English and German with subtitles.
Running time: 121 minutes
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
2-Disc DVD Extras: Commentary by Tom Cruise and director Bryan Singer, "The Valkyrie Legacy" documentary, "The Making of Valkyrie" featurette and a digital copy of the film.

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze.

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