Starring Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, and Eddie Izzard. Rated PG.

What an odd idea for 2008!

This fictionalized account of the most famous of the 15 attempts on Adolf Hitler's life to be carried out by disaffected members of his general staff fairly reeks of the sad, pathetic earnestness that characterized so many West German films of the 1950s. Half a century ago, the ideological message was as clear as it was unconvincing: we weren't all Nazis back then-some of us were resistance fighters, the rest dupes. It was all der Fí¼hrer's fault, really.

Conversely, the worst that can be said about Germany nowadays is that it continues to be a difficult place for long-term Turkish residents to obtain full citizenship. That wouldn't have counted among the top 10,000 charges that could have been made against the Third Reich.

In other words, on a thematic level, Valkyrie appears to be 50 years behind the times. Formally, it is only 40 years out of date, with director Bryan Singer trying to outdo Luchino Visconti (The Damned) in his baroque placement of Nazi iconography (swastikas painted on the bottoms of swimming pools, and party banners more common than curtains).

The film's general lack of suspense (we know what happened) is aggravated by a script that is almost entirely devoid of human emotion. Throw in some uneven acting (as arch-conspirator Claus von Stauffenberg, Tom Cruise's Yankee accent stands out alarmingly from the sea of mainly British voices that surrounds him) and the occasional unintentionally risible scene, and one is left with what can only be described as a misbegotten production.