Picks and Pans Review: Valkyrie

updated 12/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy PG-13

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Valkyrie tells the true story of a group of disillusioned German officers and politicians, led by Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise), who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Knowing the ending ahead of time (non-spoiler: Hitler died by his own hand in 1945) sort of puts a damper on just how much suspense the movie, directed with visual panache by Bryan Singer (Superman Returns), can generate. Surprisingly, Valkyrie does a decent job of ratcheting up the thrills until two-thirds of the way through, when the bomb von Stauffenberg has planted near the F├╝hrer goes off and, uh, well, nice try, guys. Cruise, sporting an eye patch and an empty sleeve (von Stauffenberg lost an eye and a hand in battle), alternates here between being grim, determined and noble, all apt choices given the circumstances.

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