Rated: R for violence and some disturbing images. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 12, 2016 Released by: Bleecker Street Media
Sean Ellis's Czechoslovakian espionage wartime drama (perhaps a more pretentious companion piece to Valkyrie and, of course, ) alternates from quiet to explosive as the atmosphere shifts to diabolically discomfiting as ambush attack leads to a vicious reversal.
In Anthropoid, a code name for the termination of the "Butcher of Prague", Reinhard Heydrich (right behind Himmel in the Nazi Third Reich hierarchy), an opening sequence gives some exposition of the state of a country sold out by the Allies through the Munich agreement.
The portal would be natives airlifted from London - key to the base of the exiled government - Jozef (Cillian Murphy of Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) and Jan (Jamie Dornan of Fifty Shades of Grey) called upon to take care of the architect of the Final Solution.
Initially there is some intrigue around these operatives, along with others of the Prague resistance including Toby Jones's Jan, filled with a certain somber resignation. Especially when a welcome distaff presence comes to add some emotional spark through actresses paired with Jan and Josef, Charlotte LeBon and Anna Geisterova, respectively.
Yet, the build-up to the climax which has a couple of watchable tense sequences is too much of a slog and displays the Gestapo at its most lurid and brutal. Some may question if the ramifications of such a mission was really thoroughly thought out or if the powers that be really had concern for possible internecine disquietude.
So, this standard fact-based cinema looks to head to ancillary markets much sooner than its distributor hopes with The Bard's "Julius Caesar" having a thematic impact when it comes to cowardice, valor, and heading to die. The Nazis are broadly represented often later in a rough onset to say the least (as in an exclamatory way) as a church turns out to be crucial set-piece.
Murphy and Dornan have a kind of telling forethought but the characters may be too guarded for their own good. And, the protracted primordial conclusion which has a jading effect leads to a scroll which is eye-opening about dastardliness and the overall impact of this type of intransigence. One that should have been staged with vivid, more poignant cohesion.