Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 9:32AM
Seeing a bunch of trailers and clips for Bryan Singer's new film, Valkyrie, I was kind of afraid of this reaction. As always, we caution that it's just one opinion, not a consensus, and you can't always put a lot of stock in the first word on a movie. But...
The Scoop at MSNBC cites a source that has seen
the film and says it's pretty much a failure, mostly thanks to
We wondered how it would play, Cruise leading a cast of RADA-trained thespians
as the only major player sticking out like a sore thumb by not even attempting
an English accent like his cast mates. But there is, according to the story,
more wrong with it than just that. “The film just isn’t a thriller at all,” said
the source. “It’s a bunch of white guys in Nazi uniforms. It’s too bad.
"And Tom doesn’t speak with a German accent — though they did add a voiceover of him speaking German to the beginning of the film. Still, it’s as if he could say ‘I complete you’ at any time. This is not his Oscar moment.”
I believe the quote is "You complete me," but whatever. I can see that about Cruise, though. I remember watching The Last Samurai thinking that no matter how hard he tried - and his effort was clearly and distractingly visible - it was still just Tom Cruise, not an actor as a character. It wasn't John Wayne as Genghis Khan obvious, but if you watch the ease of Ken Watanabe in that film and compare it to how hard Cruise acts in every scene, you get the picture.
There is also, apparently, a moment at which Cruise’s character, Claus Von Stauffenberg, has to perform the institutional Nazi salute, the ol' Heil Hitler. “It’s an unsettling scene but you almost start to laugh," reports MSNBC's source. "His character is resisting it but you never forget it’s Tom Cruise saying ‘Heil Hitler.’ It’s funny and shocking at the same time.”
See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Some actors can disappear entirely, like Guy Pearce. With other actors, you're aware it's them the whole time but they're still natural enough that you never question it. And then there's Tom Cruise, who come across like Tom Cruise most of the time, no matter what the character calls for. I hope it's not as dire as the source makes it sound. I think a Samurai-like Cruise could bury a movie like this, especially because of the great actors in the ensemble who by definition don't have enough to do to ultimately save it. That'd be a damn shame, because it's a fantastic story and the cinematography and production design, two key elements of period pieces like this, are on par with the rest of the cast.