Wednesday, 14 September 2016

REVIEW - ANTHROPOID (SEAN ELLIS)


Sean Ellis, more of a technician at heart than an artist, finds his footing in Anthropoid, though rather too late. This might qualify as the very archetype of 'middle-of-the-road filmmaking,' save a scant few exceptions, each either elevating or denigrating the film, none to significant effect. It's proficient storytelling, and with a terrific story indeed - Czechoslovakian resistance fighters parachuted into Prague during WWII to assassinate Heydrich - though with no evident comprehension of how to wield such proficiency. It's simply slapped on the screen, exploited as the worthy impetus behind a historical thriller yet never mined for its own potential artistic nor intellectual worth. Ellis' hand is resolutely steady, his aspirations resolutely modest, thus holding Anthropoid to a straight and narrow path of inoffensive mediocrity throughout. At times, you may feel rather grateful for that - exposition-heavy dialogue produces a number of implausible scenes, and truly no film has ever not suffered from the presence of dear Jamie Dornan, quite permanently out of his depth as an actor. Ellis is just too solid, too sensible to allow such failings to stick. It's only when the material permits him the opportunity to really grab a hold on the film in the extended climactic sequence that he finds his purpose, and solid direction and editing (mostly MIA from the rest of the film) aid in creating a forceful, gripping conclusion. But what value is afforded Anthropoid by virtue of its story alone is generally negated by Ellis' feckless, pedestrian approach. File this under 'movies that are worth watching, but not paying for.'