Director: Bryan Singer
Year Released: 2008
It's better to try and fail, the argument goes, than to never try at all. So it goes with the case of Col. von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) and his fellow 'traitors' who - quite unsuccessfully - attempted a coup against Adolf Hitler near the end of World War II (explosives in a briefcase!) but couldn't pull it off. Not only is Cruise horrendously bland as the revolutionary - he wears an eye-patch, so that means he has to be serious - but Singer and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander can only punch up the (by now, familiar) story in brief spurts, particularly when our Our Heroes try to blow up the Austrian Madman with Cointreau (leaving Kenneth Branagh to reclaim the bottle once it doesn't go off) and the Big Attempt itself, which seems like it should have taken out the room but only caused flesh wounds and slight boo-boos. None of the characters are really given much depth - except, maybe, for Tom Wilkinson's fence-sitter - but that's presumably to make it easier on the audience: here are the Good Nazis, here are the Bad Nazis, you know who to cheer for. The casting of several of the people from Verhoeven's considerably better Black Book was not a wise move.