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 Führer 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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