ANTHROPOID Review - Stunning WWII Drama Delivers Strong Emotional Performances

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ANTHROPOID, from LD Entertainment and Bleecker Street Media, presents the true story of an unbelievable and courageous time in World War II when the resistance remained determined to do anything that would dismantle Hitler.

Directed by Sean Ellis, ANTHROPOID stars Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe, Karel Hermanek, Jr., Jana Frejkova, Sean Mahon, Toby Jones, Bill Milner, Charlotte le Bon and Anna Geislerova. ANTHROPOID was co-written by Ellis and Anthony Frewin.

ANTHROPOID chronicles an amazing top secret operation ordered by London Intelligence in an attempt to dismantle the hierarchy of Adolph Hitler's Third Reich by assassinating SS Officer Reinhard Heydrich, the Number Three man in Hitler's Nazi Army.

ANTHROPOID opens in December 1941 with the crackle of tree limbs two men land in the Prague countryside. Three years' prior, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of London, probably the greatest and most revered Prime Minister in the history of England, had along with the allies agreed in what has been known as the Munich Accord to give to the German's the country of Czechoslovakia. This token of peace was to pacify the Germans and for all intents and purposes was intended to end occupation of other European nations. It did neither.

In December 1941, the same year the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor effectively and momentarily destroying the United States Naval fleet. The United Kingdom and its capital London had been bombed and nearly destroyed and now with the United States officially joining the UK and the European allies in the war against the Third Reich sent seven brave men were sent behind what had now become enemy lines.

Our two soldiers Josef Gabcik, played by Cillian Murphy, and Jan Kubis, played by Jamie Dornan, with Jan hurt in the fall. Making camp, the two sleep fitfully with the weight of their orders, the deep cold and fear of being caught before they have the chance to fulfil their directive.

Their home country of Czechoslovakia, their home country, was now the outpost for Hitler's third in command, SS Officer Reinhard Heydrich, played by Detlef Bothe, the architect of the final solution which systematically murdered more than 6 million Jews.

After a near capture, the two make it into Prague with code names and locations as the Nazi occupation had taken over the city. The two finally navigate the labyrinth of safety procedures set in place by the resistance until they passed.

Taken by Uncle Hajsky, a bespectacled academic, played by Toby Jones, to the safe house of Mrs. Moravec, played by Alena Mihulova and her husband, Mr. Moravec, played by Pavel Reznicek and their son, At'a played by Bill Milner.  The family is often asked to harbor resisters and those fleeing the Nazi's and they more than willing to do be a part of ending Hitler's rule.

Soon the two handsome soldiers are attending a New Year's Eve dance with "two of the most beautiful women in the room." Marie played by Charlotte Le Bon had captured the heart of Jan and the two, in the midst of war, death and uncertainty, fell in love and she agreed to marry him.

Josef, deeply dedicated to the mission was unable to see the fairness of allowing himself to feel emotions even when Lanka, played by Anna Geislerova, a member of the resistance, agreed to be his companion so not to bring unnecessary attention to himself.

Any time sensitive mission or deadline, changes become the unpredictable variable which also occurred here. The allied strength was gaining although our band of Czech resistors had no knowledge only a sinking feeling that London had abandoned them or worse changed the directive of the mission.

With life and death in the balance and time slipping away the leaders agree to wait and receive confirmation on the mission. No one had ever attempted to assassinate any member of Hitler's Third Reich.

As the two soldiers were forced to find a new hiding place Uncle Hajsky, our deeply concerned academic, said, "I regret nothing. You are the bravest men I've ever met."

I thoroughly enjoyed ANTHROPOID. As an historian, even in only the academic arena, the details of this operation took more than simple bravery and courage. The seven that carried out this directive understood the odds of survival were slim and to be caught by the Nazi's in comparison was similar to being captured by ISIS.

The dedication of the resistors to live free no matter the cost. Intriguing from the beginning, the story continues to build with suspense as one is aware what will happen to the loved ones and even the entire population of Prague if the plan fails.

The script is well written, the dialogue without any modernized verbiage, the talent presented the layers of fear, love, conviction, espionage and the story is poignant, courageous, honorable, timely and well told.

ANTHROPOID held my attention from the beginning and throughout the 120 minutes. Not one scene was without deep meaning. Historically, the seven ended take refuge in the local church what followed is nothing less than an epic battle between good and evil.

ANTHROPOID opens August 12, 2016 in select cities. It is a must see film. With war, suicides and honest recreation of terror and torture of the Third Reich, ANTHROPOID has received an R rating. 

Image courtesy of Bleecker Street Media/IMDB and used with permission.