Valkyrie, as field-commanded by director Bryan Singer, succeeds on its own terms as a handsome hybrid of conspiracy thriller and history lesson, of Mission: Impossible and The Day of the Jackal.
Valkyrie feels like another installment in the never-ending franchise -- not just the action-movie one, but the Tom Cruise one. Like the operation itself, it's a good idea -- just not well-executed.
Mr. Cruise's performance turns out to be brisk and reasonably plausible, though unexceptional, while the production as a whole succeeds as an elaborate procedural, impressively staged in historical locations.
What if this lesser-known chapter of German resistance had been more deeply captured? What if the moral conflicts running through this movie about love of country and revolt said more about Germany, war and, yes, genocide?
Valkyrie doesn't whip you up like that Jewish vigilante avenger picture Defiance, but in this season of throat-grabbing Holocaust movies, its gentlemanliness is most welcome.
Judging by Mark Twain's comment about the music of Richard Wagner (better than it sounds), if Twain were around to see Valkyrie he'd likely say it's better than it seems.
Singer has a masterful touch with composition, creating tension simply by the way he places his actors around a room. And even though we know how it turned out, the assassination plot remains a gripping tale.