It’s no secret that the plot by German military officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the waning days of World War II failed, and that the conspirators — including Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the character portrayed by Tom Cruise in Valkyrie — were shot. So it’s no spoiler to say that I want to see Cruise eat lead at the end of Bryan Singer‘s long-awaited historical thriller.

I want to see him grimace, convulse and fall to the ground. No cutaways, no panning up to gray skies over Berlin as the execution squad captain yells “fire!” and no Che-style POV shots ending with a fade-to-white because Soderbergh owns that for now. Not because I dislike Cruise — I never have — and want to see him “shot”, but because that’s the story and because Stanley Kubrick didn’t cut away when those three soldiers were executed in Paths of Glory. And neither did Bruce Beresford in his Breaker Morant execution scene.
I’m saying this because the Hollywood political rulebook states on page 27 that movie stars rarely die on-screen in brutually realistic fashion. They die off-screen like Gary Cooper did in For Whom The Bell Tolls, or like Paul Newman and Robert Redford did in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They talk things over and say their peace before they die. They die with dignity like Marlon Brando did in Last Tango in Paris. They die quietly (like Leonardo DiCaprio‘s death from hypothermia in Titanic) and then ascend to heaven.
I’m just saying that cutting away when Cruise and his co-conspirators get shot at the end will be a chickenshit kowtow move on the part of Singer. Fair warning.