Even though we KNOW how the story will end (it is based on actual events), this well-crafted script still manages to evoke suspense, excitement and above all, a character to root for!

"Valkyrie" is the code name for the crack special forces troops who are entrusted with the ultimate protection of the German government in the event of a revolt against the Nazis. The operations manual has been modified by a group of patriotic Germans who see Adolph Hitler and his SS troops as Germany's most critical threat. We watch as they maneuver Hitler into signing it...unread...and put into action their plan to assassinate him, after which they intend to imprison the SS troops and negotiate a peace with the Allies.

Tom Cruise ("Mission Impossible," "Collateral" and "Tropic Thunder"), who plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, also executive produced this film and he has assembled a noteworthy cast:

  • Kenneth Branagh ("Harry Potter" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence") is Major-General Henning von Tresckow who starts the ball rolling with Stauffenberg. Big caveat here! Those early strategy conversations are mostly whispered, so I wasn't able to hear them. Luckily, as the plot opened up, I was able to figure them out!
  • Bill Nighy ("Notes on a Scandal" and "Pirates of the Caribbean") is perfect as General Friedrich Olbricht who willingly participates in the plot but suffers a crisis of confidence when the chips are down.
  • Terence Stamp ("Yes Man" and "Get Smart") is Ludwig Beck, another patriotic German who risks everything to try to save her from destruction.
  • Eddie Izzard ("Velvet Underground" and "Across the Universe") is General Erich Fellgiebel, saddled with the vital responsibility for communications to and from The Wolf's Lair when the coup is launched.
  • Carice van Houten (wonderful in the 2006 nail-biter, "The Black Book") is von Stauffenberg's wife and the mother of his five children, the last one born in a Nazi prison camp after the plot failed. She died in 2006.
  • Tom Wilkinson ("In the Bedroom" and "Michael Clayton") is the wily General Friedrich Fromm, who immediately launched the kangaroo court that doled out the death penalty to the principals in this, only one of 15 plots to kill Hitler.

The list goes on and on; Cruise should be justly proud of this project, the star power it displays and its dramatic depiction of a tragic event from recent history. The firing squad executes our heroes in the exact spot where the real event took place -- once the German government got over Cruise being a Scientologist.

Director Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects" and "Superman" films) conveys a complex plot in a realistic but accessible way, and THAT isn't always easy.... He wisely chose to depict Hitler as the ailing enigma he has become as WWII draws to its inevitable close. This particular attempt takes place only nine months before Hitler took his own life. By the way, the code name "Valkyrie" evolved because of Hitler's well-known fondness for Composer Richard Wagner, who wrote "The Ring of the Nieblungen" from which "The Ride of the Valkyries" is one of the most thrilling pieces.