Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Director Report Card: Bryan Singer (2008)

7. Valkyrie

Out of all the potential projects Bryan Singer was connected to following “Superman Returns,” like a long planned remake of “Logan’s Run,” another small multi-character based thriller, and even a proposed Superman sequel, “Valkyrie,” otherwise known as the Tom Cruise Eye-Patch Movie, struck me as easily the least interesting. The casting of Cruise, a hugely expensive actor completely devoid of charisma, in the lead role didn’t help that perception. The production was rift with troubles, from German protests, snarky anti-Scientology protest, and a constantly shifting release date. None of this was really a good sign.

Having watched the movie now I’ll say this: Boring. The movie continues the proud Hollywood tradition of using stuffy old British guys as a default for every other European nationality out there. Apparently, nobody using any accents was an intentional move. Singer thought that would be distracting. What winds up being distracting is the fact that this is a movie about Nazi Germany without a single German person in it.
The movie doesn’t properly confront the moral quagmire at the story’s center. Listen, here in America, there are few character types everyone can agree on hating. Nazis and child molesters are pretty much it. And while a plot to kill Hitler is all well and good, it’s hard to overlook that all the characters in the movie, the ones were supposedly cheering on, are Nazis! The movie just seems to naturally assume that the assassination plot was born out of moral outrage. It never occurs to anyone that it was done simply to make room for party advancements for certain higher-ups, a possibility that seems much more logical and realistic to me.

Beyond that, the movie just never comes alive as a thriller. The characters have zero investment in them and the shallow attempts to breath some sort of personal life into Cruise’s character, like any of the scene’s involving his family, come off as exactly what they are. The rest of the cast is even thinner. The movie manages to generate some light suspense during the bomb arming sequence. Some minor pathos is culled up in the final moments of the film but by then it’s far too late. Not even a stirring score can rescue “Valkyrie” from the pits of mediocrity.
[Grade: C]

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