By: Oberst Von Berauscht –
In the winter of 1941 a pair of soldiers of the Czech government in exile parachute into their home country, and find it a changed place. Intelligence reports turn out to be hopelessly out of date, as the NAZIs have already infiltrated or rooted out most of the resistance in the country. Miraculously, the soldiers avoid capture long enough to find a remaining pocket of the Prague resistance. Here they announce their mission; to kill Reinhard Heydrich, leader of NAZI forces in Czechoslovakia. The plan is a dangerous one, but the resistance members are all more than willing to die for the cause they deem just.
Director Sean Ellis keeps the movie running at a brisk pace despite the exposition-heavy script. The film quite admirably creates a claustrophobic feeling throughout, which makes sense for a story about the resistance in an area of Europe dominated by NAZI forces. The Czech resistance movement was particularly beset with troubles under the thumb of some of the NAZI leadership’s most infamous criminals. Besides his reputation as a commander and as the architect of the Holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich was a master of destroying opposition. It is fascinating to see the story played out of how a small group of determined fighters nevertheless managed to get at him, in spite of all his careful planning.
Like so many other WWII-era films, the color scheme of Anthropoid is grey and washed-out. The dark and depressing mood of the film fits with that look to an extent, but it is also never varies and makes the film grim and dull to look at. The film’s mood never lets up either; this is a film with only two moods, sullen and morose.
The film’s biggest flaw is in the way it treats its characters. We never learn much about any of the principal players in Operation Anthropoid, other than about their experiences during the war. The film takes its time building up to the assassination and then dealing with the aftermath, and almost none of it is spent understanding the motives of the characters. Leads Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan make a compelling pair of actors, and they delve into all of their emotional strengths here in spite of this lack of development. The result is that it is often difficult to tell what motivates them in their decision making. Sometimes the characters feel so cut and paste that you’ll find yourself hearing a conversation and not knowing which names go with what face.
Anthropoid is an unrelentingly dour look at WWII espionage, which considering the short lifespans of many of them, is likely quite accurate. Absent any levity, the film then relies on story and character development, which is ultimately lacking.
Anthropoid (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for double-cross
Take a Drink: for the body-count
Do a Shot: for explosions
Take a Drink: any time someone mentions Reinhard Heydrich