Anthropoid

"Excellent"

Anthropoid Review


Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943 Prague to assassinate a top Nazi official. Certainly the material is perfect for a big-screen thriller, and filmmaker Sean Ellis (Metro Manila) has filmed it with a documentary-style urgency that's edgy and exciting. He also has a sharp attention to detail, so the film is bracingly realistic, carrying a strong emotional kick in the final act.

In 1938, Western Europe's leaders handed Czechoslovakia over to Hitler when he promised not to start a war. But of course he invaded Poland the following year. So in 1941, the British military parachutes a team of Czech exiles back into their country to help the resistance. Two of these men, Jan and Josef (Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy), are on a secret mission to kill Reinhard Heydrich, the third in Nazi command after Hitler and Himmler. Known as the Butcher of Prague for his ruthless methods, it was Heydrich who devised the plan to exterminate the Jews. The resistance leader (Toby Jones) offers assistance for this mission, while two young women (Charlotte Le Bon and Anna Geislerova) pose as Jan and Josef's girlfriends. But with heavy security around Heydrich, carrying this off is not going to be easy.

Ellis impressively manages to tell this story without present-day hindsight, seeing all sides of the situation from the perspective of the people involved. In other words, it's not just a matter of killing a historical villain: everyone knows that the repercussions of such an act would be horrific as the Nazis exacted brutal revenge. But they also knew that, within this small window of time, they had a chance to deliver a serious blow to the enemy. Ellis structures this carefully, building up to the assassination in a way that develops almost unbearable levels of suspense. The complexity of each scene is remarkable, and the film's final act is a stunning explosion of desperate violence.

Dornan and Murphy are terrific in the focal roles as men who often disagreed about what to do next but were united in their goal. Likeable and earthy, they also create some intriguing (if unnecessary) chemistry with Le Bon and Geislerova. The supporting cast adds to the moral complexity of the situation, as everyone is conflicted about what's about to happen. This depth makes the film very different from the usual heroes-versus-villains Hollywood war movie, as does Ellis' refusal to glorify violence. Instead, this is a riveting story about flawed people who are often so frightened that they can't even hold a gun, and yet they bravely changed the course of human history. And the parallels with today's world, while never pushed, are quietly obvious.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Anthropoid:



Anthropoid

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th August 2016

Distributed by: LD Entertainment

Production compaines: LD Entertainment, 22h22, Lucky Man Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 27

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Sean Ellis

Producer: Sean Ellis, , Pete Shilaimon

Starring: as Jan Kubiš, as Josef Gabčík, as Jan Zelenka, as Marie Kovárniková, as Adolf Opálka, Detlef Bothe as Reinhard Heydrich, Brian Caspe as Antonín, Karel Heřmánek ml. as Ignac, Pavel Řezníček as Mr. Moravec, Sean Mahon as Dr. Eduard, as At'a, Jan Hájek as Bretislav Bauman

Also starring:

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