Mr. Movie

Cruise on cruise control in 'Valkyrie'

Your first reaction is correct. Why in the heck would you make this movie?

The story of the legendary assassination attempt on Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler doesn’t have a chance. There are no surprises, a happy ending is impossible and Tom Cruise has become passé.

This time of year middle-age history buffs are more interested in taking their families to animated features, fantasy films or those involving tail-wagging dogs like Marley & Me.

They’ll wait for this one to come out on DVD. I suspect most younger viewers know Hitler’s name and that he was a dictator and a monster. Some probably even know he killed six million Jews and is responsible for World War II.

No doubt they’re all familiar with Tom Cruise but -- refer back to the opening statement -- he is passé. Cruise in a movie about a Nazi is another nail in his rapid decline from the king of instant box-office money to Tom who?

With his most recent films, Cruise -- who has always been a great actor -- spent more time posing and strutting than acting. As Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg, Cruise isn’t bad and gives his best starring performance in years.

But it’s not enough. A couple of weeks after catching the critic’s screening it’s ironic that the only scene sticking with me is the one where a guy burns a mosquito off of his arm with a cigarette.

It’s very original.

Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) turns the first half of Valkyrie into an intense, interesting film. Unfortunately, once he gets you hooked and the plot to kill Hitler hits high gear, the energy drops off. You already know the outcome and Singer doesn’t put anything into the last half of the story to compel you to stick around for the downfall of these heroes.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It opens Dec. 25 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.