Anthropoid (R)

Anthropoid is based on true events surrounding the 1942 assassination of the main architect behind the Final Solution, iSS General Reinhard Heydrich.  Heydrich (often referred to as “The Butcher of Prague” because he was extremely brutal, even by Nazi standards) was the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler.

Starring Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) as Josef Gabcik, and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) as Jan Kubis, Anthropoid tells the story of what happened during the months Gabcik, Kubis and those who assisted them planned the assassination, how their assassination attempt nearly goes wrong, and how the success of the assassination led to the Lidice massacre in  Czechoslovakia.

This movie is well acted, beautifully shot, well written and well directed.  The story is thought provoking and will keep you invested all the way through until the end and even thinking about it for some time afterward.  There is suspense, tension and even a bit of romance.  All does not work out well in the beginning, the middle or the end.  It is a sad story, like all stories about the Holocaust, and war, and murder and chaos, but it stands apart because it celebrates those who took on real forces of evil and did what they believed needed to be done in order to restore order to their country and the world.

Anthropoid tells an important story about the heroes in the background who were bold enough to take a stand and risk and/or give their life for what they believed in. Although the history of WWII and the Holocaust interests me greatly, I am far from a historian.  I had never heard anything about this story before seeing Anthropoid.  I have learned quite a lot about the sad truth of it all since then.

Even though these two men were tasked with committing a murder, and we all know murder is morally wrong, this particular murder falls into one of those gray areas where it feels as though it may be the right thing to do, given the circumstances.  You are faced with a moral dilemma just as these men were, thinking they were acting within the best interest of their county and fighting for the “greater good,” while still having some reservations.

This movie vividly shows the atrocities and senselessness of war; man’s inhumanity toward man and the absurd human cost endured. The violent scenes in this movie were so necessarily vivid and well choreographed the audience gets a real sense of what it must have been like not only for Kubis and Gabcik, but for the network of brave people who helped these men and the Czechoslovakian citizens the Nazi’s used to take out their frustrations.  I felt a palpable threat of violence, torture and death.  The finale is absolutely incredible; full of action that brings home all that suspense that you feel while the Nazis are torturing, kidnapping (to be sent to the concentration camps) and killing innocent Czech citizens.

The performances of Murphy and Dornan are solid. The chemistry between the two men is apparent, as they played off one another quite well; Murphy as the self-assured militant and Dornan as the not-so-certain assassin with a heart, who tends to get shaky hands and pangs of conscience immediately before a kill.  (If you’ve not seen Murphy in Peaky Blinders on Netflix, I recommend you do.  It can be quite violent but it is a good show.  And this project was a smart choice for Dornan to shake that 50 Shades of Grey persona.)

While the romance in the story humanized the hitmen (heaven forbid there should ever just be two good looking guys focused on a mission who missed an opportunity to pick up two pretty girls along the way), it is the performance of Czech actress Anna Geislerová, that is worth mention.  As Gabcik’s love interest, her character is powerful and unafraid to fight for the cause or die trying.  She is a woman whose attitude and demeanor have clearly been shaped by war.  She is equally as brave as the assassins.  Another noteworthy performance is given by Czech actress Alena Mihulová, as the lady of the house where the assassins hide out until the assassination attempt is made.  I found no proof Geislerova’s character was actually part of Gabcik and Kubis’ true story, but the presence of both these roles helped to move the story along and provided much appreciated strong roles for female characters, nonetheless.

Anthropoid earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a great movie you do not want to miss.  The extra .5 is added just for the finale alone.  It is a finale that was made to be seen on the big screen.

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