Sean Ellis’ Anthropoid tells the story of the operation of the same name devised to assassinate a high ranking Nazi named Reinhard Heydrich (Detlef Bothe).
Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy play parachutists Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik respectively; the pair tasked with carrying out this dangerous mission. The two actors do an admirable job in their roles but the characters they are playing aren’t especially well written so there is very little incentive to be invested in them and the success of their mission beyond knowing that the Nazis are evil and have to be stopped.
This becomes the film’s biggest problem as it struggles to really be about anything and takes far too long to get to any sort of point. Is it about the operation itself or the two men facing unbelievable odds to bring it to fruition? I don’t know and neither does the film. The first half of the film concentrates on the planning and the second half focuses on what happens afterwards but there’s very little to latch onto.
The whole thing is competently executed but it ends up feeling like a dramatisation of the facts rather than a story that needs to be told. It lacks the human touch that I personally would have needed to care about the people involved. As I said the acting is fine but the script doesn’t seem interested in fleshing out the people involved which makes the whole thing feel a little too clinical.
I wouldn’t say that the details are uninteresting as such because they definitely aren’t but the way they are presented leaves a lot to be desired. There’s plenty to say about cinematic flair when it comes to planning an assassination and some better visual choices could have made it feel like a heist along the lines of Ocean’s Eleven.
The film does look great with an appropriately bleak setting feeling realistic when looking at a country under Nazi rule and the undercurrent of fear felt by everyone living there comes through really nicely. The film really commits to its setting in a very visceral and unsettling way.
An extended shoot-out at the end of the film is incredibly well executed. Watching the small group of men try to defend their location as the Nazis slowly close in works very nicely. The claustrophobic and dimly lit location really sells the futility of the situation and the actors all bring their A-Game as they come to realise how hopeless the situation is. It doesn’t work as well as it could due to a lack of opportunity to invest in the characters but as set piece moments go it’s appropriately bleak and interesting to look at. If nothing else this film can be remembered for a dynamic action sequence.
The excellent acting, attention to detail when it comes to the events and the setting isn’t quite enough to redeem this film from feeling like it’s missing something. The main problem is that it struggles to be about anything with characters that aren’t all that well written and a story that struggles to find focus. There is a memorable action sequence towards the end but a lack of investment in the characters means that it doesn’t work as well as it should.
- excellent acting
- a memorable action sequence
- the attention to detail in the setting
- thinly written characters
- a lack of focus in the storytelling
- uneven pacing
- an overall lack of investment in the events as shown