The harrowing true story of the Czech assassins that fled their country when the West handed it to Hitler and who returned fully trained to kill the man who Adolf placed in charge of the country Heydrich. Heydrich was Hitlers third in command and was known as The Butcher of Prague and also one of the main men behind the final solution to what the Nazi’s called The Jewish Problem.
I am fascinated by this story. Ever since watching a movie called Conspiracy a decade or so ago I’ve been watching documentary, film, and once a strange modern dance routine about the story of Heydrich. When you get to the 40 mark of your life you start to want to learn stuff rather than having to learn stuff. There is freedom that comes with this new age of mine, where I can be a boring middle-aged man addicted to learning about the Nazi’s as the History channel are about showing them. Heydrich is one of the characters of the second World war that the more you read about the more you want to know about. This film is about Operation Anthropoid in which two natives of the then Czechoslovakia which was given to Hitler in order to prevent what came any way. After fleeing the country the two men Jan Kubis played by Jamie Doran and Josef Gabcik returned with one goal, to kill Heydrich.
You’d think that Hollywood would have run out of stories to tell about the Second World War but this is one of the better true life stories that have come out, and the best WW2 film that we’ve had since Saving Private Ryan. It’s not just the story that grips you from the start, men trained to kill to free their country from the greatest evil the 20th Century had known. It’s the wonderfully subtle performance from Jamie Doran against the laser focus of Cillian Murphy who plays Josef Gabcik.
From seeing all those documentaries and other dramatisations of this story you see how much they stuck to the story. This helps old men like me enjoy this type of film. Details of historical events in films tend to get lost to great Hollywood film machine. Here while there is some dramatic and artistic license take it’s pretty much dead on to the details. From the techniques used to plan and carry out the assassination to the torture that the Nazi regime used to find information and the amount of Czech citizens that they murdered for little to no reason.
The film moves along at a nice pace, though it does drag in the middle a little, but who doesn’t. The finale is all things to all people, tense, touching, heroic, tragic, and shot in a way that doesn’t glorify the violence but rather shows you the horrors of that type of warfare. A lady sitting in front of me at the screening reacted to some of the violence in the later scenes of the movie with genuine horror and it made me feel horrified at myself for not reacting the same way. This film proves that Jamie Doran shouldn’t be in those Fifty Shades of Terrible movies, he has the acting ability as we’ve all seen in The Fall. If you haven’t seen The Fall TV series then you should watch it as soon as you can. Cillian Murphy is always watchable and it’s great to see him showing us why he’s one of Ireland’s great acting talents.
The historical closeness and the superb acting, along with some magical moments of photography and some almost unbearable tension make Anthropoid one of the best films of the year for me, even though I knew what happened to these heroic men and women I was kept on the edge of my seat for the entire running time. When you know a story so well you are watching for the moment that the film makers slip up, thankfully there were no great prat falls, just a whole lot of amazing! Get out and see this film. Even if you have no interest in World War 2 this is about bravery we rarely see in our 21st century!
Director: Sean Ellis
Writers: Sean Ellis, Anthony Frewin
Stars: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe