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film review

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan in Anthropoid (2016).James Lisle

Based on real events, Sean Ellis's Anthropoid opens with grainy documentary footage of high-ranking Nazi Reinhard Heydrich, author of the Final Solution and an Obergruppenfuhrer who earned his nickname, the Butcher of Prague. Cut to a snowy forest, where paratroopers Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) and Josef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) land in the dark. Czechoslovakian soldiers trained in Britain, they have returned to their occupied homeland to carry out Operation Anthropoid and assassinate Heydrich. Where to go? Who to trust? They enlist two local women (Canadian actor Charlotte Le Bon and Czech actor Anna Geislerova) to act as their beards. This leads to the inevitable. While it's easy to sneer at the romantic subplot, it serves to humanize the characters and convey their intense fear. Otherwise we know too little about them – beyond the fact they are all impossibly good-looking. With tensions high leading up to the attack, the real action happens in the fallout. Some of these scenes are masterful – and sometimes difficult to watch. But the real horror – mass revenge killings by the Nazis, including the obliteration of the entire village of Lidice – takes place off-screen.

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