Magazine February 9, 2009, Issue

Uprisings

Tom Cruise in Valkyrie (MGM)
A review of Defiance and Valkyrie

Story matters. By rights, this winter’s anti-Nazi double feature, Valkyrie and Defiance — in which the Wehrmacht’s officer class and Belarus’s Jews, respectively, take up arms against Hitler’s Germany — ought to be a two-engine train wreck. The former film stars an eyepatched Tom Cruise as the German aristocrat Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, a piece of miscasting disastrous enough to sink most movies by itself. The latter is yet another earnest humanist epic from Edward Zwick, a director whose recent curriculum vitae includes the lousy historical epic The Last Samurai and the yet-lousier modern epic Blood Diamond. Both movies’

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