Anthropoid (2016) Review
One of two films this year to cover the real-life events of Operation Anthropoid, Sean Ellis’ film is a tough, bleak and uncompromising retelling of the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler.
Pulling no punches in terms of portraying life in occupied Czechoslovakia under the Nazis, the film plays out like a lavish reimagining of “The Secret Army” with a Tarantino sensibility. There’s no levity or respite in a film that starts tensely and continues to ratchet up the tension all the way to its stunning and brutal finale. “Anthropoid” has little interest in romanticising the Second World War or in glorifying the gung-ho heroics so often implicit in films chronicling the ruthless fascist domination of Europe.
Cilian Murphy and Jamie Dornan give committed performances but the bleakness is so overwhelming and the tension so relentless that despite the period detail and the authentic historical locations on offer, it becomes something of a melancholy chore to power through. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because there’s nothing glamorous or dashing about what actually happened and it’s perhaps for the best that dramatic licence is kept to a minimum.
“Anthropoid” is a harsh, sombre look at the realities of wartime resistance but it’s unlikely to be a film you’ll want to watch more than once.