The first reviews are in for Valkyrie, Tom Cruise’s holiday release Nazi thriller, and they’re mixed. Cruise’s performance is not as laughable as some advance reports may have you believe, according to the critics, but it’s not that amazing either. It’s a passable film that people are likely to pass up at the box office in favor of lighter fare, according to Variety:
After a long takeoff, “Valkyrie” finally takes flight as a thriller in its second half but never soars very high. Bryan Singer’s long-awaited account of the near-miss assassination of Adolf Hitler by a ring of rebel German army officers on July 20, 1944, has visual splendor galore, but is a cold work lacking in the requisite tension and suspense. This second production from Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner at United Artists will do better than the first, “Lions for Lambs,” but is a decidedly odd choice for Christmas Day release, and looks destined for just so-so commercial returns.
Cruise himself is a bit stiff but still adequate as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the handsome, aristocratic officer whose disenchantment with Nazism, the Fuehrer and the war finds sympathetic ears among a sizable number of military bigwigs at a time when the tide has turned against Germany in the East and an Allied invasion is expected imminently in the West.
The Hollywood Reporter is a little more enthusiastic about the film, but says that it’s lacking in some key respects. There is a mild spoiler alert for the quoted text below. Everyone knows how this story turns out, but this may reveal a little too much about the plot:
Bottom Line: Well-crafted historical thriller boasts fine performances but fails to probe the motives behind the plot to kill Hitler.
After keeping “Valkyrie” under wraps for months and moving its release date four times, MGM has finally pulled back the curtains on its Tom Cruise historical thriller to reveal a coolly efficient, entertaining and straightforward tale about the last of 15 known assassination attempts against Adolf Hitler…
The coup itself, following the assassination attempt that many believe has succeeded, makes for fascinating viewing and much what-if speculation that should continue long after the credits roll. All details are convincing and presumably well researched. The film has a documentary-like authenticity yet remains a sleek thriller filled with flawed heroes and catastrophic missteps.
Singer has crafted a fine film. One just wishes for greater details — and a different ending.
[From The Hollywood Reporter via Huffington Post]
Cruise and Lauer in 2005
Cruise is playing the hero and he’s going to promote the hell out of that film. He’s even going to go back on The Today Show. Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise have patched things up after their much talked about on-air confrontation over psychiatric drugs in 2005. Tom Cruise made some jokes at Matt Lauer’s roast in October and they seem to have reached a tentative truce. Cruise will appear on The Today Show on December 15, and they’ll probably joke about their heated exchange three years ago and then move on.
In the new issue of People, Cruise says he “could have handled things better” in that infamous interview, and calls 2005 “My year of jumping dangerously.” Cruise’s interview with Lauer was at the end of June, 2005, just six weeks after he jumped on Oprah’s couch when trying to express the magnitude of his feelings for Katie Holmes. He seems to have partially recovered since, with a two part love fest on Oprah and a comedic role in Tropic Thunder as a parody of the guy who fired him from Paramount. He may not ever be the same to the public, but he’s working on it.