DVD Review: Anthropoid

anthrpoiddvdSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Sean Ellis | CAST: Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan, Harry Lloyd, Toby Jones, Charlotte Le Bon, Anna Geislerova
RELEASE DATE: 11/1/16 | PRICE: DVD $15.96, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $19.96
BONUSES: featurette, storyboard-to-film comparisons
SPECS: R | 121 min. | Historical thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

A slam-bang true-life war saga that seems to have come from another era—in a good way—the fact-based thriller Anthropoid’s biggest problem is its title, which makes it sound like some sort of Alien-type space shocker.

In fact, Anthropoid is actually the moniker of the real-life mission that takes the spotlight in this gritty combat picture:  a daring WWII scheme in which a small group of Czech resistance fighters plan on assassinating  high-ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich—aka “The Butcher of Prague”–  stationed in their country.

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dorman in Anthropoid

Cillian Murphy (r.) and Jamie Dorman in Anthropoid

The two lead characters, played by Cillian Murphy (In the Heart of the Sea) and Jamie Dorman (50 Shades of Grey), are the Czech ex-pats who parachute into the country with the goal to lead the threadbare resistance effort to put “The Butcher” out of commission.

Co-writer and director Sean Ellis (Cashback), who also expertly served as cinematographer for the film, captures the horrors of the Nazi takeover, along with the heroics of the never-say-die countrymen who band together to stave off their formidable German foes. Undoubtedly, the most impressive sequence is an extended showdown between the two sides that is a knockout, reminiscent of the brutal, classic slow-mo shootout  in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. But the movie also shines in quieter moments exploring the relationships between all of the Czech mates, including romantic interests Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk) and Anna Geislerova (Zelary)

Intense throughout, with attention to detail that will remind some viewers of such classic assassination-mission suspensers as The Day of the Jackal, Anthropoid took in about $3 million on a relatively limited release pattern. Its ancillary exposure will likely draw enthusiastic responses from a middle-aged audiences hungry for this kind of movie, the like of which they just don’t seem to make anymore.

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.