Valkyrie was perhaps the first great disappointment of 2009. Make no mistake, the film is not poor at all, it just doesn’t qualify the talent behind it. Bryan Singer is one of the better directors of his generation. One of his main writers, Christopher McQuarrie, wrote The Usual Suspects. The cast too seemed just too perfect for the material they were tackling. And therein lays the problem.
Perhaps if it were merely a Tom Cruise vehicle we may not have paid so much close attention to the others around him. Sure get in decent supporting players, but to have so many high profile and respectable thespians form the supporting cast makes you analyse all the more. And although not one of them seems out of place, not many of them have nearly enough to do, say or even emote. There are some well tailored scenes in the film, make no mistake, but with this level of talent you’d expect nothing short of sheer brilliance, but it is sadly lacking.
Part of the problem is also that the tempo of the film has clearly been laid down as building story for the first half and then going down the fast lane of tension and suspense in the second half. But again, although it is all there and carefully planned, it still never quite gets to the heights where it was aiming to be.
Perhaps a longer running time with more character development, and even the reasoning behind their involvement would have helped matters. It is still a decent enough thriller, just a frustrating one that never quite hits the nerve it should.
As for the disc extras there is a half decent 15 minute feature from the film makers. More impressive is a 40 minute documentary from Singer’s production company which retells the tale from the historian’s point of view. The disc also comes with two commentaries. The first one is with Singer, Cruise and writer Christopher McQuarrie, which is informative but does lapse quite often into back slapping and backside kissing. The second one is from both writers which is slightly more fascinating, but again fairly self congratulatory.