You know what would be great? To take Hitler down? And stop the gassing and the conquest and the thing and the guy? Would be an audacious hotshot with the guts to get in there and do it. A guy so good he could do it with one eye tied behind his back. A guy so good he counts his blown-off right-hand as an asset because he can "Heil Hitler" ironically and you can never really call him on it. And I know just the actor to play him.
Valkyrie is based on a true story, which I know because the screen says so at the beginning of the film in German. And I know that it says so at the beginning of the film in German because the letters morph into English before they go away. Then we hear the hotshot writing his diary in German, which eventually morphs (audibly) into the English words of Tom Cruise who seems almost frustrated by the cumbersome translation process, as if the hotshot can't be bothered to continue in German when something more serious is at stake. Also: we hear what he writes. Linguistic efficiencies could and will be made.
And the movie's off. A sequence in the middle of the film involves putting a bomb at the Führer's feet, and I quite liked the suspense, even though throughout that stretch I was thinking, "I wish Eddie Izzard were taking down the Führer instead of nervously making a phone call in the background." That's what's nice about this movie. It gives you time to think about what you're seeing. Like: Is Tom Wilkinson speaking only his dependent clauses with a British accent? Is that Peter Cushing back there? And, say, who do you think would win in a peaked-cap face-off between Grand Moff Tarkin, General Zod, and let's say Hitler? That kind of thing.
Then more morphing, this time in the face of the sometimes eye-patched, sometimes digitally walleyed Tom Cruise. It's his steely performance, his 1,000 faces that carry the film, each one revealing a facet of Hotshot Claus von Stauffenberg, each of them determined, each of them steely. If it weren't for that Germano-English text up front, I'd think this guy could probably pull it off. Ice the Führer, engage Operation Valkyrie to gain control of Berlin, gain control of Germany, gain control of Europe, and finally install Field Marshall Goose just in time to put the egg back on the mantel before the Allies arrive to say, "Yo, what the?"
Alas, he had no strafing partner, this hotshot. The rest is footnoted history and symphonic strings.
His wife lived and raised their kids without incident. Did I mention his wife? No matter.