Movie Review

Valkyrie a.k.a. “Operação Valquíria,” “Operaatio Valkyrie,” “Operation Walküre—Das Stauffenberg-Attentat,” “Operazione Valkiria,” “Valkýra,” “Valkiria”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Biography, History, Thriller, War, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
December 25, 2008 (wide—2,500 theaters)
Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists Copyright, United Artists
Relevant Issues
Copyright, United Artists

War in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

About murder in the Bible

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn't this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Featuring: Tom Cruise (Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg), Kenneth Branagh

Bill Nighy
“Love Actually,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End”

Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp

Eddie Izzard
“The Riches” TV series, “Ocean’s Thirteen”

Christian Oliver
“Speed Racer”

Kevin McNally, Christian Berkel, Andy Gatjen, Jamie Parker, David Bamber, Tom Hollander, David Schofield, Kenneth Cranham, Halina Reijn, Werner Daehn, Harvey Friedman, Matthias Schweighöfer, Waldemar Kobus, Florian Panzner, Ian McNeice, Danny Webb, Chris Larkin, Matthew Burton, Philipp von Schulthess, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Bernard Hill, Julian Morris, Helmut Stauss, Tim Williams, Alexander Seidel, Timo Huber, Justus Kammerer, Annika Becker, Marie Becker, Katharine Mehrling, Achim Buch, Anton Algrang, Matthias Freihof, Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg, Jon Collin Barclay, Matthias Ziesing, Tom Wlaschiha, Carsten Voigt, Miles O'Shea, Anna Holmes, Michael Schumacher, Niklas Bardeli, Christoph Förster, Andrew Schwerdt, Isbella Drischel, Max Urlacher, Justin Beard, Tilmann von Blomberg, Karsten Mielke
Director: Bryan Singer
Superman Returns,” “X2
Producer: United Artists, Achte Babelsberg Film, Bad Hat Harry Productions, Gilbert Adler, Nathan Alexander, Chris Brock, Lee Cleary, Tom Cruise, Ken Kamins, Chris Lee, Oliver Lüer, Christopher McQuarrie, Henning Molfenter, Robert F. Phillips, Bryan Singer, Paula Wagner, Jeffrey Wetzel, Charlie Woebcken
Distributor: United Artists

“Many saw evil. They dared to stop it.”

On July 20, 1944, the last known attempt to assassinate Hitler was the Valkyrie Project. The project was a clever one; they would use Hitler’s own plan to overthrow the government, once the Fuhrer was killed. Of course, those who know their history know that all attempts to kill the evil man failed. However, our already knowing Hitler’s demise does nothing to the film’s suspense. Director Bryan Singer and the excellent cast put us right in the middle of the action, still making us hope for the best.

Not all German officials were on Hitler’s side. The German officers who were already in the armed forces long before Hitler’s rule were often alienated from the SS and the Gestapo. Many detested the man who had tarnished the country’s recovering honor from World War I. Once the Second World War was obviously turning against Germany, several of these traditional officers picked up the momentum for assassinating Hitler and giving Germany one last chance to redeem itself.

The movie takes place over the span of about a year and half. Hating what his country has become, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was the perfect recruit for the secret group of plotters who wanted Adolf Hitler dead. It wasn’t too long before the colonel becomes the front man of the Valkyrie operation.

Sadly, when seeing this movie, people might be reminded of Tom Cruise’s personal life and the utterly false beliefs he has. However, the man deserves credit when it comes to his acting. He was magnificient in his role as the colonel and successfully carried the film’s weight on his shoulder. As with the rest of the cast, they all acted their roles with amazing believability that helped build the suspense.

Bryan Singer, the director, moves the audience comfortably along throughout the unfolding of the plot. Each character was carefully introduced as to avoid confusion from the several key players of the Valkyrie Project. One well-shot scene was when Col. Von Stauffenberg was waiting anxiously for Hitler to sign the revised copy of Valkyrie. The director zoomed in on Hitler’s aging face, as he timidly crouched down while signing. Looking down as Hitler signed, Von Stauffenberg realized how close, yet so far, he was to seeing Hitler killed.

Offensive Content

The cursing is rather mild. There is one use of the “f” word and a few other of the smaller profanities scattered through the film. A married couple share a few, but very appropriate, kisses; another couple is shown kissing somewhat passionately.

Since this is a war movie, the main offense comes from the violence. However, I feel that director Singer did an extraordinary job keeping it tastefully done and rather tame. There is some gunfire, explosions, and missiles. One must remember that this movie is a thriller where the main suspense comes within the plot to assassinate Hitler. So one might get offended that the entire movie is based on trying to kill a man and overthrow a government. At the end of the movie, many men are shown executed by firing squad; a few are also shown to have committed suicide. The camera would often turn away before the initial impact or the blood would be minimal.

Many of us might fear death. For most of us, our date of dying is unknown, and therefore it is not in the forefront of our everyday thinking. As the German officials plotted assassinating Hitler, they knew that if they were to fail, they would lose their lives. It was a risk they were willing to take, but certainly not desired. With this in mind, I could not help but be reminded of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He already knew the exact day he was going to die. He even knew that Judas would betray him for money. Jesus obeyed God until his last dying breath, to fulfill the necessary sacrifice. John 17 is the beautiful prayer when Jesus spoke with God. He said,

“Father the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. …this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

I definitely recommend this movie. It provides a lot of strong themes and a glimpse into a relatively unknown part of history. I believe this movie is appropriate for 13 and older. It helps show all of the emotions a war brings, without being too gruesome. While the executions are sad and emotionally heavy, they are not over done. Many deep conversations should come from this film and a thought as to what we would be willing to die for.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I loved this movie. My husband is a second generation German American. I have heard stories about his family in Germany and how they suffered during World War II at the hands of the Nazis. “Valkyrie” helped me understand that many German military officers were not supportive of Hitler during World War II. This is not something I learned in history when I was in high school. The men portrayed who sought to stop Hitler are heroes, in my mind. They sought to do what was right, knowing their own lives would be in jeopardy. I hope many people see this movie, since it is a factual part of history that hasn't been told before.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jeannette, age 54 (USA)
Positive—This movie was pretty well done. There was not a lot of action, but I didn't expect there would be. The language was minimal, to say the least (they only cursed once). There really was no sexual content in this movie at all, and if there was it was small. I recommend this movie to anyone who is fascinated with the Nazi Germany era.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Alex Malsan, age 18 (USA)
Positive—This was the best movie I have seen in a long time! “Valkyrie” is a welcome departure from the typical shoot-em-up action movies of today. Instead of using violence and special effects, it uses an excellent plot loaded with suspense and solid acting to keep viewers glued to their seats. The characters are well done and believable, and despite the dubious moral theme of assassination, the film focuses on the tough moral fiber of these men. They made difficult choices to do what they thought was right because they believed in something bigger than themselves—they knew the cost and chose a road of sacrifice anyway (sounds like a Savior I know).

I have studied a lot of military history and am usually distracted by inaccuracies in war movies, but from the costumes to the military vehicles to the sets, this film does a fantastic job of representing Germany during the war. Also, based on the brief research I've done on the actual assassination attempt, the writers of “Valkyrie” went to great lengths to get the story accurate and took very few liberties—even details I thought were “Hollywoodized” turned out to be right on. I am very picky about the movies I watch, and I rarely recommend a movie, but despite the minor language and violence, I am recommending “Valkyrie” to everyone I know over the age of 13.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Dan, age 35 (USA)
Positive—This is movie is certainly one of the best movies I have seen, though not the happiest. “Valkyrie” is a movie about the last attempt to assassinate Hitler. Though we know what happens, we still want to watch, still want to root for those who are fighting for what they believe in. We watch transfixed, experiencing what the characters are experiencing. Feel their excitement, nervousness, pain. And although there is not a happy ending in “Valkyrie,” and you will leave the theater depressed, it will have an affect on you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Beth, age 18 (USA)
Positive—This movie was made very well. The acting was great and Hitler was portrayed excellently and that made the movie more real. I was pleased the the violence was minimum-there weren't constant battle scenes with blood pored all over the huge screen. There were people getting shot at, but it wasn't at all offensive because it's a true story and it was what really happened. The do say the “F” word once, but I hardly noticed. It is a wonderful story of bravery, selflessness, and courage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Britney Jensen, age 19 (USA)
Positive—This movie was a good option for Christian viewing. Acting was good, plot was interesting, and, except for a few vulgar words and historical violence, very clean. There was no real spiritual strength to the movie that I could discern, but it was interesting that Hitler's supporters claimed he was divinely protected. A worthwhile movie for the historical drama.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Michael, age 55 (USA)
Positive—A true story about a man standing up to evil but not succeeding. Nothing is done unbiblically other than the story itself is about countering evil. Much easier to watch than Schindler's List.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Joe, age 61 (USA)
Positive—"Valkyrie," the latest movie from Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects," "X-MEN," "Superman Returns") is based on the true story of Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg, who, in 1944, rewrote a plan approved by Adolf Hitler called “Valkyrie” and used it to try to kill him. Unlike his previous movies, Singer uses an all-star cast in the main roles: Tom Cruise (who looks a lot like Stauffenberg himself) as Stauffenberg, Kenneth Branagh (my favourite actor, writer, director and producer; best known for his wonderful Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare adaptations) as Henning Von Tresckow, Bill Nighy as Friderich Olbricht, Terence Stamp ("Superman II") as General Ludwig Beck, Eddie Izard as Erich Fellgiebel, Tom Wilkinson ("Shakespeare In Love," "In The Bedroom, "Batman Begins") as Friderich Fromm. The movie is very accurate, in terms of portraying the events (only compressing or omitting other events relevant to the story because of time constraints). There's not much offensive content, to begin with: just some violence (at the beginning, the middle and the end; in each case, the camera either cuts away before impact or there's no blood shown), one “F” word, two “D-mn” words and one "H-ll." The violence is not graphic, and is entirely relevant to the story. I highly recommend the 2-Disc Special Edition, which contains two feature-length commentaries (one with screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie [who wrote "The Usual Suspects"] and Nathan Alexander and the other with Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie), a 16 minute featurette and a 43 minute documentary, all of which are very insightful. I highly recommend this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 23 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I was expecting more action from this movie. There was lots of planning to get in the purposes of the movie. I found it slow, at times, but the overall was good. The end was pretty tragic, but it was expected to be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—David April, age 34 (Canada)
Neutral—Good movie, BUT—scenes near the end show nooses and other means used to execute officers involved in the assassination plot. This is very heavy viewing for some 13 and 14 year old, and I would think you would have warned parents in your review.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Janet, age 55 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I went to this movie because I like historical movies, and I like movies with Tom Cruise, especially “Last Samurai.” But I was disappointed with “Valkyrie” for several reasons:
1. Script was not well written.
2. Movie directors could not show the actual “Nazi culture” and characters—seems Americans in Nazi uniforms.
3. “Hitler” does not look like real Nazi dictator.
In a nutshell it is too expensive to go to this movie with your family, wait till it goes to DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Phil, age 35 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was pretty good. There wasn't much profanity, although I do recall one f-bomb. There was no sex, but there was a good amount of violence. I went into the theatre expecting a lot of action, but it was all plotting throughout the movie, until the end, when things started happening. The end is hard to stomach, but what could you expect since Hitler wasn't assassinated. This film portrays sacrifice and loyalty which is inspiring and touching, despite the end of the film. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes the genre and who is older than 13. This was an overall good film, as long as you are not expecting that Disney happy ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Rachael, age 15
Positive—I don't believe there's ever been a movie that's taken the viewer so deep into the heart of military intrigue. With that being being said, this movie was great! Not only did it teach the viewer about true-to-life events, it ALSO was an intense, pulse-pounding thriller!

Focusing on offensive content, this was a pretty clean movie. There was absolutely NO sexual content, NO biblically offensive content, and very LITTLE language. The language included one “F” word and one “B” word. The rest was just a few “D” and “H” words.

All in all, I recommend this movie for teens and adults. It's a good movie for Christians to see, because it portrays a true story of the fight against Nazi Germany when they were in their stage of evilness.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Zac P., age 14 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie with my dad, and I really enjoyed it. I was glad to see/hear that there was only one MAJOR curse. He** and da** and some others that were in there. But they did say the “f” word, only once. I think that was about the worst word they said. I really enjoyed the film. It was pretty accurate. I liked the film. Very good film to watch if you are interested at all in Adolf Hitler or WWII, or if you just like Tom Cruise!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Caitlin M., age 14 (USA)
Positive—I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was one of those “keep you on the edge of your seat” kind of movies. The tension was amazing. I would not suggest it for anyone under 13, because of the executions and suicide at the end, but it was done in a way so that the viewer got the point without being totally unnerved. There was not as much action in the movie as I thought there would be. The plot is deep, and you must pay real close attention to get their plan to assassinate Hitler. There is some profanity, but with the German and British accents, sometimes it's hard to tell. Overall, this is a must see for all people who love to see the epitome of duty, sacrifice, and the pursuit of what is right.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Patrick F., age 16 (USA)
Neutral—If you are looking for a lot of action, this isn't the movie for you. As far as the ratings go, I think it should be rated PG. There is rarely a curse word and almost no violence at all. It is very slow.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Saul Vinson, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I really liked this movie. It really showed you what Germany was like during WW2. The swearing was mild. There was one F-word, 2-4 D-words, and 2-3 H-words. I can't remember any other swear words. The violence was very realistic in the theater which made the film very cool. The violence wasn't very heavy though, but there was a lot of shooting, missiles, and bombs in the beginning. I highly recommend seeing this movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Daniel, age 14 (USA)
Positive—If you enjoy learning about history, you will like this movie. I love stories about WWII, and this movie did not disappoint me. The violence is very tastefully done, there's nothing gory. The only things I would change about this movie is I would erase the unneeded f-word and actually get actors who were German, or could at least fake an accent!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Katie, age 17 (USA)