Anthropoid is director Sean Ellis’ portrayal of the aftermath of the Munich agreement, showing the grim reality before the second world war and the brutal consequences of wartime negotiations.
Following the operation to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich during his occupation of Prague, the mission is spearheaded by self-exiled Czechoslovak soldiers (Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy) and supported by the remains of the resistance in Prague that would heavily influence the future state of Europe.
Unlike many of its war movie predecessors, Anthropoid doesn’t feel like propaganda haloing the involvement of the allies. Instead, it gives a frank portrayal of how smaller countries were overlooked in the fight against Hitler combined with the given level of drama expected by a feature film. The Czechoslovakian gaze on this era is deservedly preserved, solidified by Ellis’ choice to not offer subtitles for the German soldiers; this maintains the uncomfortable and isolating effect the country was submerged in after German occupation.
Dornan is a far cry away from Fifty Shades of Grey with his study of Jan Kubis, a young soldier trained to fight for his country but disillusioned by the repercussions of his actions. He is joined by a strong Slovakian accent from Murphy as the silent and deadly Josef Gabcík and a notable performance by Anna Geislovrá playing Lenka Fafková, an underestimated member of the resistance whose poker face rivals her counterpart on screen.
The film is populated by big names in supporting roles. They are faces you associate with the clipped British upper-class accents of their previous roles but are transformed into the Czechoslovakian counterparts they represent: Toby Jones, Bill Milner and Harry Lord, to name a few. Also, the classical music by Robin Foster, which provides the soundtrack for much of the heavy artillery fire, preserves the message behind the dense cargo narrative.
Ellis, who came to fame after directing his independent hit Cashback, has created an impressive instalment in WWII films. Anthropoid has every element of an espionage hit: intense warfare, double bluffs, betrayal, code cracking and heavy accents to boot. Combined with its sobering message, it delivers an impactful and necessary watch to end the summer.
Anthropoid is released nationwide on 9th September 2016
Watch the trailer for Anthropoid here: