Sunday, June 14, 2009


Bryan Singer, 2008 (8.7*)
Even if you know this story from history or reading William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, director Singer and screenplay authors Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander have made an excellent suspense film with a tightly woven story of an attempt to assassinate Hitler just after the D-Day invasion, July of 1944. You find yourself actually wondering what the outcome will be, as if suddenly plunged into an alternate history story.

The film begins with chief plotter Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) in North Africa, receiving battle injuries that would relegate him to a bureaucratic role for the remainder of the war. Along with many other Germans who could see Hitler destroying both Germany and all of Europe, they felt they owed it to humanity to forge a truce with the Allies immediately, especially before they reached Berlin. These included men within the German army and the government, who began to covertly plot together, and it was no small conspiracy. Von Stauffenberg is brought into the group by superiors.

The cast is excellent overall, especially Bill Nighy as General Friedrich Olbricht; other recognizable talents include Kenneth Branagh and Tom Wilkinson. Cruise is good enough, though a German actor may have been a better choice, he's just a little too American, better suited for Born on the Fourth of July, still his best role to date, receiving a best actor nomination.

Overall, an excellent suspense film, well-made, very authentic looking with just enough mix of plot development and action, while remaining pretty accurate to history. Singer is better at this type of film, like his The Usual Suspects, than the action films he's recently tackled; he's in his element again here.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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