Uncovering Curiosities: Sean Ellis’ ANTHROPOID

Anthropoid is a curious WWII dramatic thriller from 2016. It’s probably made even more curious by the fact this true story stars two Irish actors (Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy) as Czech soldiers on a mission to assassinate Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich (Detlef Bothe). They acquit themselves well on the accent front and manage to add a certain amount of punch to director Sean Ellis’ rather po-faced film. This isn’t a daring-do WWII adventure, it’s a slow paced drama which shows the forgotten bravery of those who fought against the Germans in Czechoslovakia.

Getting off to a slow start, Anthropoid features a lot of scenes with people standing around in rooms speaking in hushed tones. The performances are good, but at times it gives off the whiff of a prestige made-for-TV drama. Dornan and Murphy make for an intriguing double act. They’re strong actors who sell the weight of their mission to hit the Third Reich in the heart of Prague. You wish they were give a bit more to do during the first two acts.

However, it’s Anthropoid’s last forty or so minutes which really ups the adrenaline levels. It features a pretty spectacular action sequence that sees our heroes trapped in a church outnumbered by Nazis. It’s thrilling and tense and you wish the rest of the film had some of that energy. If there’s a scene that Barbara Broccoli needs to see in order to cast Jamie Dornan as James Bond then it might just be this one.

Anthropoid is well made, with good performances and the last act is a cracker. However, it’s quite staid as a whole and a little un-involving. You can’t argue with the intentions but it lacks drama.  I was expecting more and while it ultimately redeemed itself, it’s not quite enough to improve the overall experience.