If there’s something I always love when it comes to films, it’s documentaries or movies based on real life events. Nothing gets to me more than after the last scene in the movie when they describe what went on to happen to everyone.
In fact even fictional stories in films and on TV that do this will pull at my heartstrings. For example, in the final of The Wonder Years when at the end it said that the father passed away years later, I couldn’t help but shed a tear then!
To me though, the pinnacle of this type of fictional story-telling was the final episode of Six Feet Under where the main characters, from all 5 seasons, had a montage death scene from far into their futures. I still rank that episode as one of the best bits of TV ever made as it wrapped up the whole story of every character to the very end of their lives.
So with the film I’m reviewing today, Valkyrie, being based on a true story, I already knew I was in for a film that, good or bad, would find a place in my heart as I just can’t help myself when it comes to true stories.
Valkyrie stars Tom Cruise, as a German officer during World War 2. He plays the ring leader in the last of 15 failed assassination attempts on Hitler, by his own people, during his reign as Fuhrer. The film is a ‘who’s who’ of the English acting fraternity with greats such as Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp and Eddie Izzard, plus many other smaller supporting roles by other lesser known but great actors .
All of these ‘greats’ play historical characters who were involved in the plot to kill Hitler in his secure bunker called the ‘Wolfs Lair’. The story follows the journey from the beginning of conspiracy talks against Hitler to the arranging of plans to deal with Germany after his death, which of course, all ended in the failed attempt on Hitler’s life.
I’m not giving anything away in saying this was a failed attempt on his life, as it’s public knowledge that Hitler died by his own hands at the end of the war and not at the hands of a group of conspirators.
This brings me to the one sour point of the film…the fact I always knew the ending! It was a lot like how I felt when watching the King Kong remake. I mean, I knew the big guy was going to die, so when he did, it wasn’t a shock. This is not to say though that if I know the ending of a film that I still won’t like it.
I’ve seen many films where I’ve already known the outcome but they were made so well that by the end I was almost surprised at what happened. A good example of this is the Japanese anime film (a style of animated cartoon) Graveyard of the Fireflies. The ending is shown at the start of the film yet I was still in tears by the end even though I knew what was coming!
Valkyrie never made me forget that this wasn’t going to work out in the end, and because of that, I just couldn’t get caught up in the story as much as I would have liked. That’s not to say it isn’t a great film, because it is. Some excellent performances, and fairly good directing by Bryan Singer, did amount to a compelling story.
In the end, however, it felt more like a good history lesson of an interesting period in the world rather than a stand-alone film. Ultimately, it just didn’t resonate as much as I hoped it would, and for me, even though it was a good film, it never made it up there to being great.
8 out of 10 from me!!!