The fact that Tom Cruise plays the lead role of Clause Von Stauffenberg is what attracted me to this film the most. Aside from being in a Nazi uniform, Cruise also sports an eye patch and a missing arm to boot! After hearing about Tom Cruise's life devotion to Scientology and his recent public religious outbursts, I expected to see a man who meant serious Hitler killing business. Unsurprisingly, Tom Cruise's megalomania of sorts makes his performance worth seeing. All jokes aside, Tom Cruise is still a guy that takes his acting performances seriously despite what people have to say on the contrary.
Apparently, many German film critics were offended by Cruise's performance in Valkyrie. German film critic Hanns-Georg Rodek of the German newspaper Die Welt stated of Cruise's performance, "He comes over best as an American hero, someone who battles for respect with aggression and energy. But Stauffenberg was a German hero, with aristocratic bearing, and Cruise cannot carry that off." Rodek’s statement is fair as America is hardly a country of “aristocrats” but more like third and fourth generation well off peasants. But then again, what American actor could play a German aristocrat well?
Being your typical arrogant and ignorant Hollywood production, Valkyrie lacks a certain authenticity that you come to expect from most World War II films. The most annoying thing being the variety of different “English” accents for these German Nazis. In all honesty, I didn’t expect to hear much German in the film as Americans hate (and for the most part maybe can’t?) read subtitles. Valkyrie features a variety of actors from around the world and even a handful from Germany. Some of the actors playing historical figures look ridiculous in comparison to the real-life individuals. I especially liked the vaudevillian looking man who played the sinister character of Joseph Goebbels.
Valkyrie is not a beat down of postwar propaganda nor is it an amazing world war II epic. It is simply a film you watch to see your favorite actors dressed up in fancy Nazi uniforms. For anyone that liked the German Hitler bunker film Downfall, Valkyrie continues the tradition of new, big budget Nazi flicks. Also, Cruise's "Heil Hitler" salute with a nub for a arm is mandatory viewing. Hell, Valkyrie is also one of Hollywood’s closest attempts at morally redeeming any German citizens that lived during the Nazi era. Now that’s progress.