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Stars: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Bill Nighy, Thomas Kretschmann, Eddie Izzard, Tom Hollander, Kenneth Cranham, Ian McNeice, Bernard Hill

Director: Bryan Singer

Crikey, not another film about a plot to kill Hitler. Wonder how this one ends. Wasn't Branagh in another Nazi film called Conspiracy? Just as well that he gets shipped off the front here, after originating an ambitious scheme following his first failed attempt - leaving the limelight to Col von Stauffenberg (Cruise), who has lost an eye and seven fingers during an Allied bombing raid in North Africa.

Cruise and Branagh are of one mind, that Hitler must be dispatched along with his major lieutenants, so that a truce with the Allies can be negotiated before Europe is laid waste. Stamp, as the boss of the operation, offers Cassandra-like words of caution. 'Remember,' he says, 'this is a military operation. Nothing ever goes according to plan.'

Cruise, who looks remarkably like the real man, is solid enough as the family man with a wife (Black Book's excellent van Houten) and four children, but his British supporting cast is rife with lip-smacking exaggeration and some of the Germans might have sprung from an episode of 'Allo, 'Allo. The suspense is somewhat undercut by the fact that we know that the plot must fail; true, the same weakness beset The Day of the Jackal, but that was a better-structured film.

The desert action at the start, however, is superbly staged. Pity there's not more of it.

David Quinlan

USA/Germany 2008. UK Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox (Fox/MGM/United Artists). Technicolor.
121 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 23 Jan 2009