Wartime suspense thrillers can be plenty effective even when just focusing on nuts and bolts; it’s a pleasant surprise when they offer at least a little more to chew on. And co-writer/director Sean Ellis finds an effective angle on the fact-based story of a 1942 plot by Czech nationalists—including Josef (Cillian Murphy) and Jan (Jamie Dornan)—to assassinate high-ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich in occupied Prague ("Anthropoid" is the plan's code-name). Ellis nails the centerpiece sequence as the plan is put into action, as the tension of waiting for the target turns a motorcycle backfire into a potential threat. But it’s also a story about the brutal realities of what freedom fighters sacrifice (including, fair warning, some cringe-inducing sequences of torture), as the tentative romances begun by Josef and Jan collide with their mission. The climatic sequence involving a siege on the conspirators’ hiding place by the German army loses a bit of the character momentum as it lingers, but Anthropoid offers more than a historical footnote in its respect for the high price of being a patriot.
Director: Sean Ellis
Producer: Mickey Liddell, Pete Shilaimon, Anita Overland, Léonard Glowinski, Krystof Mucha, David Ondrícek, Jennifer Monroe, Chris Curling and Sean Ellis
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Le Bon, Anna Geislerová, Toby Jones, Harry Lloyd, Alena Mihulová, Bill Milner, Pavel Reznícek, Jirí Simek, Sam Keeley, Detlef Bothe, Marcin Dorocinski, Mish Boyko and Václav Neuzil