Consider these two early reviews of Valkyrie, which is being marketed to us as a nail-biting thriller of a high Hitchcockian order.
First, Todd McCarthy at Variety:
After a long takeoff, Valkyrie finally takes flight as a thriller in its second half but never soars very high. Bryan Singer's long-awaited account of the near-miss assassination of Adolf Hitler by a ring of rebel German army officers on July 20, 1944, has visual splendor galore, but is a cold work lacking in the requisite tension and suspense.
Here’s Brent Simon at Screen Daily:
There are a few striking visual markers -- uncradled phones and slamming typewriter keys -- that hint at building tension, but Singer also misses key opportunities to inject a little energy and visual flash into the story, as exemplified by a clumsily-staged arrest sequence late in the film. Valkyrie at times feels emotionally constrained, too invested in speechifying.
What have I been telling you all year? The entire industry has lost its focus on true, essential tension and suspense. (Consider, too, the blog-a-thon we had on tension and suspense.) You want to get noticed as a screenwriter? Write a suspense story that actually has suspense! God, they’ll think you’re a damn genius!
By the way, read 1,000 Faces of Tom Cruise. You will laugh out loud. At the end, Robert Davis writes:
I quite liked the suspense, even though throughout that stretch I was thinking, "I wish Eddie Izzard were taking down the Führer instead of nervously making a phone call in the background." That's what's nice about this movie. It gives you time to think about what you're seeing. Like: Is Tom Wilkinson speaking only his dependent clauses with a British accent? Is that Peter Cushing back there? And, say, who do you think would win in a peaked-cap face-off between Grand Moff Tarkin, General Zod, and let's say Hitler? That kind of thing.
If the suspense was truly “good,” he wouldn’t have been thinking all those thoughts, now would he?