Directed by Sean Ellis
Not quite sure how this film received a mid-summer wide release, but I’m grateful, nonetheless. I’m assuming it received that release due to the gaping void left by a lack of caper films this summer – as well as its WWII espionage subject matter. It does, indeed, fill that void. The problem, however, is that it’s not very good. Outlining a little known, yet historically significant, operation by Czech resistance operatives, it ticks off all the right boxes, but never really grips you or takes you on the journey. And I’m note sure why it doesn’t. Decent script, beautiful photography, accurate set pieces, and very good, if not exceptional acting…and yet…
Maybe it’s because the two main leads, Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy never quite convince you that they are of this world…at least not as successfully as the actors playing smaller roles do. Murphy, especially, seems to have merely taken the physical idiosyncrasies of his “Peaky Blinders”‘ character and simply added an Eastern European accent. Dornan fares better, but the script asks too much of his character for it to be believable…especially since the absent Murphy plays his partner-in-crime. But kudos to some exceptional acting from the Czech-born Anna Geislarova, making her English-speaking debut. Without her performance and commitment to the text, this film would really be off its moorings. Toby Jones is also quite good in this film…an actor I wish we saw more of.
Or maybe it’s that the planning of the operation…the caper…doesn’t develop with enough real-feeling stakes, so, when the operation does occur, it has no crackle. The final few scenes, however, are terrific and make you wish the entire film had been made with the same urgency and attention to detail.
And then there’s the score…I’ve written this many times in the last six months, but whoever actually wrote the “Interstellar” score (I know, Hans Zimmer…but really…which of his apprentices ACTUALLY wrote it?) should be getting royalties. The prettiest piece of music from the Anthropoid score (“Lenka’s Theme”) is a first cousin to the “Interstellar” main theme. You’ll know it when you hear it. Otherwise, the score is good, successfully building tension…but not a standout.
Overall, this is not a bad film. It’s a decent enough edition to the WWII Resistance Fighter ouvre, and does illuminate a little known, yet important, story about the nature of that resistance before the Allies fully joined the cause. But it could have, and perhaps should have, been so much better.
Written on August 25th, 2016