Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: In 1938 German troops occupied Czechoslovakia without a shot being fired. The Nazi war machine was cranking up to seize all of Western Europe by 1940. The Czech government in exile decided to strike a blow against their oppressors, and Operation Anthropoid was put in motion. Two Czechs, Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) and Jozef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy), with the support of the British military, were parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December 1941. Their mission was to link up with the local resistance movement, and assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich (Detlef Bothe).
The chance of success for this mission was low, and the risks extremely high. Heydrich was known as the “Butcher of Prague”, and the reference was well earned. Most of the underground resistance in the country was crushed, and civilians were routinely tortured or shot for little cause. But Heydrich was the third leading Nazi in Germany, behind only Hitler and Himmler. Plus the SS general was the leading architect of the “Final Solution” to wipe out all Jews. So the operation was approved regardless of consequences.
The historical facts of Operation Anthropoid are well known. After months of planning, the assassination attempt was made on May 27, 1942. Although things did not go as planned, General Heydrich did die. The Germans responded with unprecedented brutality, and 15,000 Czechs were killed in reprisals. Still, the operation was the only successful assassination of a key German leader in all of WW II.
The film did a good job in recreating the dark days of WW II, and how difficult and frightening it was to live in an occupied country. The story is an important one, and was well told. Several areas could have been improved upon. The film literally jumps into the story with the two Czechs parachuting into the country. It would have served the story to preface it with why the operation was conceived and approved. It bogs down a bit with the 5 months of observing the Germans and the planning of the assassination. The actual attempt on May 27went by in a blur; it would have been interesting to dwell on that scene more. Instead, much of the movie is devoted to what happened to the men who had parachuted into the country, and what became of them. The action certainly picked up in the last 20 minutes of the film. The movie is definitely worth seeing for the historical importance of the subject matter.
Dialogue Nuggets: Czech Resistance Leader – “If you kill Heydrich, then Hitler will tear Prague apart.”
“It was the Allies who gave us to the Germans in the first place.”
“About taking our own lives. Was he serious?”
“There are more guns out there than on the Eastern Front.”