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</script></div>{/googleAds}Bryan Singer, who brought us Superman Returns and two of the three X-Men films, seemingly steps outside of his super-hero comfort zone to direct Valkyrie, a suspenseful WWII thriller centered on one of the many failed plots to assassinate Adolph Hitler during his tyrannous reign of Germany. But upon closer examination, it's not too difficult to realize that many superhero themes run throughout Valkyrie, including a lead character that, like many superheroes, is just an ordinary man moved to extraordinary actions.

What IS a bit more difficult to imagine is Tom Cruise in the superhero role. But as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer whose job it is to remain stoically emotionless and seemingly loyal so as to penetrate Hitler's inner-circle, Cruise does just fine. No â"deep, soul-searching range" needed here. Hopefully, viewers will be able to see past the lingering negative buzz and Cruise's sofa-bounding antics to give the film a chance. It actually works as intended. It's a taut, suspenseful WWII flick with a little â"old school" feel that may very well one day be mentioned in the same breath as some of the great ‘70s war thrillers like Von Ryan's Express, The Great Escape or Where Eagles Dare.

ValkyrieInjured while serving in North Africa, Stauffenberg eventually becomes disillusioned by Hitler's ideals and leads the little-known German Resistance movement where he devises a cunning strategy to use Hitler's own emergency plan to stabilize the government in the event of his demise Operation Valkyrie to remove those in power and topple Hitler's regime. A stellar cast of A-lister's joins Cruise in the group of defectors, including Bill Nighy, Terrance Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, and Eddie Izzard. David Bamper as Hitler brings chills, but not so much because of his performance he's not on the screen more than a few minutes - as much due to his resemblance to the angry little Austrian.

Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie with whom Singer earlier paired on The Usual Suspects - keep the pace steady, interesting and orderly despite the sometimes intricate and involved behind-the-scenes machinations of the coup attempt. We're treated to some fairly nifty gadgets and dangerous scenarios, which would feel right at home in a Mission:Impossible film or even any episode of McGyver. Even though we know the outcome, we still find ourselves caught up in the proceedings and can't help but run through numerous â"what if" scenarios. Much of the film's suspense and tension comes from what we've invested in the characters and our affection for knowing that what they are doing is right. Yet we're also torn because we wonder how these men of principles could have joined forces with Hitler in the first place. These men were certainly faced with an agonizing dilemma and the filmmakers effectively bring us along and drag our own sensibilities through the mud. A few clever little nuances and poetic licenses top off the highly effective script, including some juicy ambiguities about exactly which members of Hitler's inner-circle were involved if any and just how complicit they were? Seems some were eager to sit on the fence, ready to fall to either side depending on the dangerous plot's outcome.

Singer's attention to details pays off with a great sense of presence throughout Valkyrie. He uses various locations where many of the actual events occurred, including the historic Bendlerblock that hosts the film's stirring final scenes. Singer's interest in history and his exhaustive research including knowledge taken from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich pay off in a huge way by lending the film a stylistic â"period" feel. Blood red flags emblazoned with the swastika carry maximum impact and immerse us in the terrifying world of 1940's Germany.

Component Grades
4 stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1 (Theatre Wide-Screen)

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish.

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 HD; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.


* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie.
o Feature-length commentary track with Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander.
* Featurettes
o The Journey to Valkyrie
o The Road to Resistance: A Visual Guide
o The African Front Sequence
o Taking to the Air
o Recreating Berlin
o 92nd Street Y: Reel Pieces with Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer
o The Valkyrie Legacy

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging - Disc 2 is a digital copy of the film.