Operation Anthropoid doesn’t ring a bell for North Americans the way, say, Valkyrie does, but it certainly should. The code name for the planned assassination of Reinhard “the Butcher of Prague” Heydrich, Hitler’s third in command, carried out in the Spring of 1942 by a select group of Czechoslovakians under the direct orders of the exiled Czech government is a rousingly powerful story. The name Anthropoid means having the form of a human. The factually accurate film named Anthropoid depicting the exercise has the underlying formula for a stirring feature, yet it only gels in its final third, in the aftermath following the assassination of Heydrich.
The film follows mission leader Jocef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan of 50 Shades of Grey fame) as they nervously and painstakingly plan the critical attack with fellow revolutionaries. In the months where they await the go ahead from British Special Operations in London, they also happen to fall in love with two local girls sympathetic to their mission (played by Charlotte Le Bon and Anna Geislerova, both turning in riveting performances in their limited screen time).
The problem is that far too much of the film is in the lead up to the clumsily executed assassination, with one too many close-ups of pretty boys Murphy and Dornan and barely any character development or narrative to propel the film forward. However as the men, hidden away in a local church, await their doom from impending Nazi forces, the film turns into an edge of your seat thriller and a film very much worth viewing.