Writer-director-cinematographer Sean Ellis (CASHBACK) returns to our screens with a period thriller based on the true story of the assassination of the SS officer Reinhard Heydrich during World War Two. Operation Anthropoid had Czech soldier parachuted back into the country by the British, collaborating with what was left of the Czech Resistance, scouting out Heydrich's typical route out of Prague Castle, to gun him down. History tells us that the initial attack was thought a failure, but that Heydrich did indeed die of his wounds. The men responsible for the assassination - the only successful high-ranking assassination of a Nazi - were betrayed and after a courageous 6 hour gunfight in a church - killed. The SS razed villages and killed thousands of Czechs in reprisal. But Czecho was, as a result, seen as an ally and the Munich Agreement nullified.
It's testament to the film that despite knowing the history of Anthropoid, I was genuinely gripped by it. The tension of planning and executing the attack was painful and the final shoot-out in the Church exquisitely choreographed and genuinely emotionally affecting. Most of all, the brutal scenes of torture were truly unforgettable and a final moral confrontation haunting. I also love the fact that Ellis chooses to shoot the film in Prague, using many Czech actors to lend the film authenticity, and indeed show the source material respect. The problem is, however, that it forces his British lead actors into adopting what I am sure they must think are Czech accents. The film survives because of the force of Cillian Murphy's lead performance, which more than offsets Jaime Dornan's weaker contribution.
ANTHROPOID is rated R and has a running time of 120 minutes. The film is on release in the USA and UK.