Saturday, January 10, 2009
You have to give director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie a lot of credit. They have crafted a very suspenseful film even though you already know the outcome. This is not easy and they really pull it off. You almost expect a different ending to World War II based on this true story.
Tom Cruise plays Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg, a German soldier who believes his country but not Adolf Hitler and along with others plot his assassination. Mr. Cruise is passably in the role but only because there is not much range to the part. The film is well stocked with a fine supporting cast including Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and Terrance Stamp. Everyone plays Germans but speak in their natural English voices. This is an interesting decision on Mr. Singer's part to not bother with phony accents but rather start the film in German and blend it into English almost as if the audience has a Star Trek universal translator.
Everyone acts with with much pomp and circumstance and Mr. Singer frames the film with a countdown clock reminding us of the building tension. The taut direction and moody music all contribute to the mounting suspense of the operation. You almost expect them to pull it off but of course they don't. Everything leads to an unsatisfying conclusion but watching the plot unfold and learning the aftermath still make for a suspense filled thriller.