There’s this strange pattern where movies with a similar subject matter are released at the same time (think White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen and Deep Impact and Armageddon). This time both films (the other film comes out next year) are about the 1942 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a man so evil that even Hitler labelled him ‘the man with the Iron Heart’ whilst others nicknamed the 'Butcher of Prague'.
Heydrich (who also makes an appearance in the alternate history TV drama The Man in the High Castle) was one of the evillest men in the Nazi regime, he ruled Prague with brutal efficiency and was the main architect of Holocaust. Anthropoid is about Operation Anthropoid, a plan conducted by the exiled Czech Government in London, which aimed to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich.
What I like about this excellent, gripping war time thriller is that, with one to two small exceptions, the film is devoted to showing the true story of the Czech Resistance Fighters who gallantly and bravely assassinated one of the most important men in the Nazi regime. It’s dedication to telling a historically accurate story has a profound effect in honouring the men central to the story, and rather than meddling too much with the story, the film lets this extraordinary story play out pretty much as it happened.
The story is extraordinary and build up to the actual assassination is incredibly tense, you can almost feel the nerves pulsate through the bodies of the assassins. The film doesn’t shy away from the Nazi brutality, even though the film does show the German grunts to be rather unless in the way of combat. Other than that the film is pretty brutal in its depiction of Nazi controlled Prague, where taking a cyanide capsule is favourable to capture.
The performances are impressive with Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dorman delivering Eastern/Central European accents decently enough for them to be convincing rather that distracting. The beautiful sights of Old Town Prague, captured by Sean Ellis acting as cinematographer and director, is a great contrast to the sheer ugliness of war. Anthropoid is a dramatic story without needless dramatics and it’s all the better for it. It’s a worthy film for a story that deserves a worthy film.