With Barack Obama’s victory last night, what some view as an eight-year long national nightmare will finally come to a close in January. So it was somewhat ominous that, during its election coverage last night, CNN repeatedly ran an ad for an upcoming movie insisting that “The conspiracy begins this December.” Valkyrie is the next step in the Tom Cruise rehabilitation project, and—his turn this summer as a Machiavellian Hollywood producer in Tropic Thunder notwithstanding—if anything is going to resuscitate the actor’s leading man status it is indeed a conspiracy. In Valkyrie, based purportedly on historical events, Cruise plays Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a pirate-patched German officer who leads a (presumably bungled) plot to assassinate Hitler and end World War II. Promisingly, the cast also includes Dutch siren Carice van Houten, the undercover Jewish badass of Black Book, Paul Verhoeven’s 2006 revisionist WW II thriller.
With our own quagmires going on now, you would think that this period in our history would be sort of irrelevant, and yet in recent years marquee American directors like Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh, and Clint Eastwood have all been drawn to it. The Greatest Generation is in vogue again—at least at the movies. And so on a day when “change” was the nation’s keyword, the spots for Valkyrie were as politically discordant as those for the new James Bond film, the wretchedly titled Quantum of Solace (they also played on CNN last night). Comparatively speaking, the ad the cable network ran for Disney’s Bolt, a soon to be released movie about an action-star dog, voiced by John Travolta, looked positively forward-thinking.—Benjamin Strong
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 5, 2008