By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Anthropoid directed by Sean Ellis is a WWII thriller about two Czech soldiers on an assassination mission in Prague. Although the film has ample opportunity to flesh out an intense and historic story through the eyes and ears of the Czech resistance, the film falls a little short of delivering the emotion that I was expecting.
Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) and Josef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) have a hell of a mission to accomplish. Czechoslovakia has no allies and is under the rule of Nazi Germany in the year 1941. One of Hitler’s right-hand men, Reinhard Heydrich also known as ‘the Butcher of Prague’, is the main perpetrator and must be assassinated. Anthropoid delivers an interesting and a less explored side of WWII films. This isn’t just a look at the Czech resistance’s struggle against the Nazis, but also the resistance’s struggle with themselves. There is almost no point of view from the outside, and this bothered me a little.
I liked the idea of the film being more personal and having the opportunity to see the people behind the scenes, but the character development didn’t really happen in the first half of the film. From the beginning it felt surprisingly long and underwhelming, which is why when the wheels finally began to turn, and boy do they turn, I wasn’t hit with the intensity that I was expecting to feel for these people. There were torture scenes that were actually quite brutal, but sometimes I wondered what I was supposed to be feeling from them, considering I wasn’t really exposed to the character that much.
This is a really complicated one because the acting was quite decent. Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan both deliver decent performances as expected. It was also great to see Czech local Anna Geislerova take on a substantial part in the film.
It was the lack of music and lack of outside perspective that dulled the first half for me. Music can make or break a film. Few films have pulled off having little or no soundtrack to really focus on dialogue or intensify the mood of a scene, take Hitchcock’s The Birds for example, but Anthropoid and its minimal score doesn’t really leave much open to interpretation of mood and dialogue, because the dialogue wasn’t really there.
But, no matter how this story is executed, it’s still a remarkable true story. One that deserves praise and deserves to be seen, especially if you’re a Prague local. I just wish it was executed better.
Feature photo: Gizline