Making a movie about an assasination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944 is a tricky one because we all know how World War II ended in april 1945 with the death of Adolf Hitler in his bunker through suicide. That’s why it’s called and attempt and not and assasination. So the question in cases like this is: can a spoiled ending still give you an exciting movie? The answer is yes, and to add to that this movie gives you something extra…
That extra is the what-if-factor. This movie plays with the idea of how Germany would’ve looked like if the attempt was succesful. If Hitler didn’t survive the attack then the replacing heads of state would’ve gone into talks with the parties at war and probably ended it. Who knows where that would’ve gone? Probably not East and West Germany for instance and a lot of lives saved.
Even though you know the outcome, seeing this operation take place still makes you hope for a succes even though it will never happen and that is partially the strangth of this movie. A movie that had a very negative buzz from the beginning. Tom Cruise is starring and his persona in real life was under fire since he did some couchjumping on Oprah. The cast consisted of English, American and even Dutch actors all playing Germans which, while nothing new and has been done many times before, did cause some uproar. The release date was also pushed back many times due to reshooting and conflicting dates with other high profile movies. Luckily the negative buzz has proven to be completely wrong and the endresult is far from terrible.
Tom Cruise is enigmatic in the part of Stauffenberg. It’s a shame his off-set behaviour has become so public that it reflects how we rate his acting skills. Tom Cruise was always a charismatic actor and that hasn’t changed. As long as he keeps his alien-religion out of the media then he’ll do just fine. He’s supported by a strong cast, most of them British. There are a lot of familiar faces among them, one of them is the relative newcomer to the internation stage: Carice van Houten. She has delivered one strong performance after another over the past few years and has quite a range. Her part is relative small here as the wife of Tom Cruise, but she makes her onscreen time count. I think she might get a firm foot on the ground in Hollywood.
The movie isn’t perfect. They reduced Hitler to a side-character. Sure he needs no introduction and we all know who he is but he has only a couple of minutes of screentime, most of them muted. I think it would have been better if they established him more in the context of the film or at least gave him something more to do than just wave around with his arms and point to positions on a map. Other high-ranked Nazi’s also have mere bitparts. Goebbels however has a chilling scene where he is preparing himself to commit suicide by cyanide and has a lengthy discussion while he has that pill in his mouth.
Not great but certainly not as bad as was expected.