Book Reviewer

Before watching this film I couldn’t fail to have noticed the criticism it has drawn since the early days of filming. Tom Cruise wasn’t welcome in Germany because Scientology is considered to be a ‘Cult’ there, and then there have been innumerous negative reports of Cruise’s wooden acting, inappropriate American accent and general unsuitability to the role.

It is true that his accent is misplaced, and presumably his German one was bad enough to not warrant inclusion in the film. One would suspect that is why the remainder of the predominantly British cast speak in their native accents rather than affect a German one. And whilst the subject matter of this film would appear better suited from being recast with German actors, spoken in German (with subtitles) and shot in black and white, we can’t have everything.

The story focuses on the 20th July plot of 1944 – the last (of many) failed plot to kill Adolph Hitler during the closing months of the Second World War. A group of conscientious German’s of high society, military rank and political stature decided they would rather risk death for themselves and their families than lose the War with the world thinking Germans endorsed Hitler’s maniacal acts, atrocities and plans for Europe and beyond.

Tome Cruise plays Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, an aristocratic German Lieutenant Colonel in the Wermacht who is identified early on in the film as the plotters main weapon in getting to and assassinating Hitler in his ‘Wolfs Lair’ Polish tactical retreat, thus allowing their plan – the instigation of Operation Valkyrie – to come into effect.

Oepration Valkyrie was the mobilisation of the entire Nazi Wermacht Heer (Reserve Army) in the event an Allied bombing campaign broke down law and order, civil infastructure and resulted in the masses protesting on the streets. This plan had been approved by Hitler himself, and would see the consolidation of existing power and allow a seemless handover to Goebbels, etc with a heavy emphasis on SS coordination and involvement.

The German Resistance movement were able to obtain the plans from General Fromm, the Commander of the Reserve Army who was ‘tapped up’ but did not fully commit to any coup d’etat. Fromm was the only man other than Hitler who could instigate Operation Valkyrie, and was therefore vital to the plot. The Orders were re-written to remove the SS from the planning and to rewrite key parts (which focused on the Fuhrer being dead and a coup having occurred) so as to make it appear the legitimate Nazi party and military heirarchy of Berlin were in fact the plotters and coup instigator, and ordered the Reserve forces to arrest those in Command.

But it all hinged on Hitler being dead, and much of the Resistances’ support hinged upon that. So it all came down to Von Stauffenberg and whether he has the nerve to take a bomb into the heart of the Wolfs Lair and blow Hitler up.

Overall I feel the film is well made and fluid, with a nice feel of suspense and tension running through it. I don’t really understand why there is so much criticism of Tom Cruise. Usually I hate the man in most of his roles, but this time he conveys a quiet and stoic man of priciples quite well. Nothing remarkable or Oscar worthy, but definitely a decent performance. The rest of the key roles are cast well too (its nice to see so many of our Thesps and household names in the Resistance), and the film does a good job of conveying a complicated story suspensefully despite there being only one outcome and events being well noted historical fact.

I’m sure the Tom Cruise baiting will continue, but overall I would recommend this to anybody with an interest in Military films (don’t we all) and a riviting storyline.
Have to disagree with you about Mr. Cruise as Stauffenberg, Command-Doh - and it isn't Tom-baiting - just the fact I felt he was way out of his depth in the role and brought the whole film down as a result. It should have been a dramatic film, but with him in the lead, with his wooden delivery and broad American accent, it seemed more like Mission Impossible goes German.

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