Director: Cédric Jimenez
Cast: Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O’Connell, Jack Reynor, Mia Wasikowska
Runtime: 2 hrs
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes and Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 28 September 2017
Synopsis: 1942: The Third Reich is at its peak. The Czech resistance in London decides to plan the most ambitious military operation of WWII: Anthropoid. Two young recruits in their late twenties, Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, are sent to Prague to assassinate the most ruthless Nazi leader - Reich-protector Reinhard Heydrich, Head of the SS, the Gestapo, and the architect of the "Final Solution"
For someone like this reviewer who didn’t enjoy history lessons in school, movies are the best solution to be aware about actual events which happened in the past.
How much do you know about Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War II? This writer will be honest with you: he knows nothing about it until this movie directed by Cédric Jimenez came along. Based on French writer Laurent Binet's novel HHhH, the 120 minute film chronicles Heydrich's uprising and the lead up to his assassination.
Wait, before we proceed, who is Reinhard Heydrich? For those who don’t already know, Heydrich is a high ranking German Nazi official during World War II, and a main architect of the Holocaust. He is also responsible for formalising the plans for the Final Solution to the Jewish Question - the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German occupied Europe (there is a moment in the movie which addresses this nicely).
There are many critically acclaimed movies which about the Holocaust (Schindler’s List, Life is Beautiful, The Pianist, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Defiance and Denial are some titles which come to mind), and this one adds to the list.
Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Everest) boldly takes on the role of Heydrich and brings humanity to it. You see how the man started his career in the navy, and the series of events which transformed him into someone historians regarded as the darkest figure within the Nazi elite. The gorgeous Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, A United Kingdom) plays his wife Lina Heydrich with the right amount of gravitas.
After a commendable dramatic plot development in the first half, the movie introduces Jozef Gabcik (Jack Reynor) and Jan Kubis (Jack O'Connell), the two men from the Czechoslovak army who carries out the assassination. This is where the movie steers in a mainstream direction of focusing on heroics and action, something which viewers have seen in classic war movies. Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sing Street) and O’ Connell (300: Rise of an Empire, Unbroken) are very likeable as two earnest and patriotic soldiers who are determined to complete their mission. The scene where they are trapped in a flooding underground facility is especially moving.
The movie is high on production values. There are scenes with massive sets and countless extras. The sequences shot on location in Prague and Budapest also lend authenticity to the film. More importantly, you feel for the characters, regardless of which camp they are on. You realise that a circumstances do affect how personalities change, and a monster is not made in one day. The scene of Heydrich playing the violin with his son accompanying the performance on piano is a nice touch on the humane side behind the highly feared figure.
While the assassination of Heydrich has been adapted into several movies before this, most of them were released during the 1940s to 1970s. Hence, this is a timely introduction to younger viewers on the historical events.
(Strong casting makes this historical drama a recommended watch)
Review by John Li