Esther McCarthy Reviews Anthropoid and Hell or High Water
Anthropoid (15A) ****
Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s third in command after Himmler and the leading architect of The Final Solution, raged through Prague and beyond during WW2, inflicting great pain on the Czech people. Under orders from the exiled government, soldiers Jozef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) were sent back to their country with an daring plan - to kill Heydrich.
These events are brought to life in Anthropoid, a movie named after the operation which is directed and written by Sean Ellis. The film recalls how the men plan the killing despite the reservations of a Czech resistance aware their people could suffer more as a result.
Anthropoid is a film of two halves, with the drama slowly building in the first hour. It’s too long, but it does a decent job of characterising these men and the risks those around them must take to help them. But Ellis’s great victory is that he has made a movie as much about the aftermath of the attack as the attack itself. It builds into a terrifically tense and unsettling thriller as the men hide from Nazi forces determined to hunt down all involved, and carry out the most brutal and painful of punishments to anyone remotely connected to them.
Hell or High Water ****
This mix of heist movie/Western and thriller is a super follow-up to Brit prison drama Starred Up by filmmaker David McKenzie. At times reminiscent of some of the movies from the Coen Brothers, MacKenzie, working with a script from Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan, nevertheless puts his own stamp on this. Set in Texas, the movie centres on the exploits of brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) who join forces to rob several branches of the same bank, taking smaller notes to avoid detection.
Unfortunately for them, they fall under the radar of a Texas ranger (Jeff Bridges) who doggedly pursues them in the hope of cracking one last big case before retirement. He’s aided by his half-Comanche partner (Gil Birmingham). It’s a familiar tale but one that builds wonderfully thanks to MacKenzie’s assured direction and some super cast performances.