Release Date: December 26, 2008
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Movie of the Day for Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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 One of these two is not gay.

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Position Staff In Brief
59/196 Max Braden Even though you already know the broad outcome, this is a pretty good thriller, and more impressive than Defiance.

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Tom Cruise is a Nazi! OK, now that we've got that easy joke out of the way, let's discuss Valkyrie.

In the waning days of World War II, with German losses of both territory and men piling up, there was a resistance movement within Germany to depose Adolf Hitler and try to negotiate an end out of the war, which many in the resistance felt was a lost cause. Plus there was that whole Holocaust thing, which was, in retrospect, a pretty bad idea.

Valkyrie is the story of the July 20 Plot, which was intended to kill Hitler (since asking him nicely to step down bore little chance of success) with a bomb. The film will follow the development of the plot, which was to be carried out by one Claus von Stauffenberg, a one-eyed, amputee German war hero (played here by Tom Cruise), through to its failure (I hope I'm not spoiling anyone here, I mean, come on) and its aftermath and affect on the end of World War II.

Bryan Singer directs the film, which has a pretty strong cast in Kenneth Branagh (playing yet another good Nazi, after Swing Kids), Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard among others, and is scripted by long time Singer collaborator Christopher McQuarrie and newcomer Nathan Alexander.

Controversy struck the film early on because of Germany's, shall we say, rocky relationship with Scientology, of which Tom Cruise just happens to be the world's most famous representative. Having one of the nation's tragic heroes played by a man they consider to be one of the leaders of a cult could rankle a bit. There wasn't much they could do other than deny filming permits on historical sets, but in the end the idea of having one of their lesser-known stories, and one that presents at least some WWII-era Germans in a positive light, told to world audiences certainly couldn't hurt.

How widely it will be viewed remains to be seen. Singer's been known more recently for the X-Men films and his rather dull take on Superman, but let's not forget how great a director of thrillers he can be, with The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil (making this his second run at the subject of Nazis on film). The big question mark is how people will react to Cruise in this role, or if they will at all. It's hard to pinpoint a big time movie star who has made more of an effort to make himself seem unlikable, and perhaps even literally crazy in the public eye in recent years, and he's become box office poison in the eyes of many. That's not to mention the difficulty in getting film audiences to side with the guys who are only just kind of bad, instead of horrifically evil. It's a tough sell to a lot of people, but also a film with a lot of potential. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)

Vital statistics for Valkyrie
Main Cast Tom Cruise
Supporting Cast Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Patrick Wilson, Stephen Fry, Tom Wilkinson, Carice Van Houten, Eddie Izzard, Halina Reijn, Kevin McNally, Christian Berkel, Terence Stamp, David Schofield
Director Bryan Singer
Screenwriter Nathan Alexander, Christopher McQuarrie
Distributor United Artists
Screen Count 2,711
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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