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Review: written Jul 2009

Straightforward but suspenseful retelling of the plot to kill Hitler

The Lost City (2005)

A straightforward telling of the true life story of the last known assassination attempt on Hitler, in 1944, what this movie lacks in surprises it makes up with more than a dash of style.

A stellar cast come together, in a movie with a very traditional feel about it - non showy direction, just telling the story as it was. Tom Cruise is fine as Stauffenberg, with just enough depth to portray the level of charisma the man must surely have had to get as far as he did, and the boldness he must have had to start the whole process with as much confidence as he seems to have had. The rest of the cast is like a who's who of British cinema, reminding the viewer of the classic war movies of old. And the movie really does seem to share a gene pool with those epic war movies recreating real life movies, with the same pros and cons they had. On the plus side, the movie convinces on authenticity. Events appear close to the known facts, without too much embroidering for effect. The budget, though not overblown by today's standards, and fairly small by Cruise' standards, has enough to create some terrific set design - the planes, the settings, the real life locations, and the recreation of the wolf's lair - all help to immerse you in the story. On the minus side, the cast are all worthy, but never outstanding. It's as if they are playing their roles with kid gloves, to be as reverential as possible to people who actually existed. Perhaps with one exception - Bill Nighy portrays the films more ambiguous character, in a role which starts to flesh out some of the anguish that must have been felt building up to what amounted to High Treason. It's a performance which manages to scratch a little beneath the surface of how it would have felt, rather than the bare facts - and yet still treats the character with respect. Other than that, although well told, the movie sticks to facts and avoids any depth.

Kudos to director Bryan Singer then - he has taken a moribund genre (WW II thriller), with a story we know the ending to, and still managed to make something relatively nail biting, and certainly visually satisfying. It's just not got enough depth or originality to join the ranks of the classics.

The Lost City (2005)

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