As the German Fascists expand their borders, scorching Europe from end to end, two brave Czechs of the Resistance prepare for a suicide mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the hideous mastermind behind the "Final Solution".
1942: The Third Reich is at its peak. The Czech resistance in London decides to plan the most ambitious military operation of WWII: Anthropoid. Two young recruits in their late twenties, Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, are sent to Prague to assassinate the most ruthless Nazi leader - Reich-protector Reinhard Heydrich, Head of the SS, the Gestapo, and the architect of the "Final Solution".Written by
Saw 'The Man with the Iron Heart' as somebody fascinated by the subject it covers, and by the man who really did have an iron heart and earned the ire of even Hitler himself. Also really like a lot of biopics and there are a few talented names.
'The Man with the Iron Heart' is a brave attempt at telling this story, but it is also agreed frustratingly uneven and disjointed. The general consensus is that the first half is better than the second half, personally found that the case too after viewing it. It is far from a terrible film, there are a number of strengths here, but it could have been so much more. And is what is meant by that it is frustrating that 'The Man with the Iron Heart' is uneven is that the flaws of the second half could easily have been avoided.
Starting with the strengths, much of the film looks great visually. There is a real feeling of evocative authenticity, with attractive costumes that captured the era well, elegant interiors and very atmospherically grim landscapes. The music is suitably haunting and the direction fares strongest in the first half and the harrowing scenes that are uncompromisingly powerful.
First half is very interesting and compelling, with some very thought-provoking writing. When the film focuses on Heydrich, his motives and his family life, it is where it most excels, being very engrossing, emotional and intense, actually also taking time to show what happens and being structured in a way that makes sense. Even if there could have been even more meat to what was told.
Although 'The Man with the Iron Heart' is a problematic film, the blame does not lie with the cast which is actually the main saving grace. Rosamund Pike especially is excellent as Lina (am really liking where her career is going), while Jason Clarke portrays Heydrich's iron heart, lack of compassion and coldness adeptly. Mia Wasikowska gives one of her better performances to date here and is one of the main reasons to stick with the second half.
It is really unfortunate that the second half is nowhere near as good. The inferior quality and the shift in focus gives a really disjointed feel and like the two halves were two films in one. The focus on those who tried to assassinate Heydrich is nowhere near as illuminating or compelling, just didn't find myself involved or engaged by it. The characters are sketchily written, the opposite to Heydrich and Lina who did have intriguing character development if still not quite enough.
Furthermore there is no tension and what is covered is rushed through with no attention to depth or sense, the odd almost incomplete-feeling structure and some strangely amateurish filming (which wasn't as apparent in the first half) also confusing it. The flashforward was not needed at all, further diluting any suspense by explicitly revealing what happened.
Although Heydrich is still interesting, the film did miss an opportunity in properly fleshing him out due to not focusing on him enough.
Overall, interesting, well acted and (mostly) made and brave but disjointed, uneven and rushed. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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