Detlef Bothe in Anthropoid

Anthropoid is a wartime thriller based on the true story of the mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the SS-obergruppenfuhrer based in Prague who oversaw the implementation of the Nazi party’s ‘final solution’ against Europe’s Jews during the Second World War.

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan play the two Czech resistance fighters, Josef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš who, in 1942, parachute back into Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and attempt to make contact with a resistance movement that has been decimated by betrayals and brutal Nazi reprisals.

Director Sean Ellis has delivered a very handsome film. The locations and framing are excellent, while the desaturated colouring and recreation of 1940s Prague brings a feeling of period authenticity to the story. Anthropoid is an extraordinary story, set in an extraordinary time.

This is the second time UK filmmakers have brought the killing of the prominent Nazi to the cinema. In 1975 Anthony Andrews and Timothy Bottoms played Gabčík and Kubiš respectively with the perfectly typecast Anton Diffring as the go-to guy for stereotypical Third Reich villainy.

Anthropoid meanders somewhat in its midsection as it fleshes out the characters with a romantic diversion and brings in some of the supporting players, though it gets itself back on track and neatly builds its tension as the team sets its trap for Heydrich.

There is a tragedy about the whole planning and execution of Operation Anthropoid, which Ellis has carefully sewn into his film; the two main protagonists Gabčík and Kubiš knowingly return to their homeland on an assignment that will almost certainly lead to their own deaths; while the planners who gave their blessing to the assassination of such a high-ranking figure, did so with the certainty that success would bring unprecedented consequences against thousands of Czechs.

Extraordinary times demand extraordinary actions.

Anthropoid is available PPV or by subscription on Amazon Prime and is available to purchase on BluRay and DVD.