After three consecutive comic book adaptations (X-Men in 2000, its sequel in 2003 and Superman Returns in 2006), Bryan Singer was in the market for something different. Singer read the script of Valkyrie, based on a true story set in Nazi Germany in WWII. The script, co-written by his high school friend and ex-colleague Christopher McGuire who secured an academy award on his script for The Usual Suspects (1995), was an opportunity Singer couldn’t miss. McGuire was a big draw to the film for Singer, considering they used to make WWII films in his backyard when they was younger, it was a chance to revisit his past. He had touched upon the Nazi subject matter in Act pupil (1998) and X-Men, not to mention that thrillers had defined his early career in films such as The Usual Suspects (1995), yet Valkyrie marks his first historical film.
Set in 1944 Nazi Germany, the tense and compelling thriller is based on the well-known large-scale conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. It centres around Col. Claus Stauffenberg (Tom cruise) joining a group of high-ranking like-minded men who want to overthrow the Nazi regime from within and so plan the daring coup on 20 July to use the ‘Operation Valkyrie’ to seize control from the evil dictator.
Valkyrie was the first time Singer has made a film with a movie star- Tom Cruise. It is easy to forget now that we have huge stars in X-Men like Hugh Jackman, that Singer has not previously worked with movie stars before this but with actors that went on to become stars after his films. Singer is able to elicit suspense from this story with a foregone conclusion (as we know the conspirators didn’t succeed) and he doesn’t do things by halves, in fact this move took two years in the making and around 90 million dollars to get to our screens. Valkyrie was nominated for best director and best actor (Tom Cruise) at the Saturn Awards and is rated a respectable 7.1 on IMDB.