HHhH (2017)

  • Time: 120 min
  • Genre: Action | Biography | Thriller
  • Director: Cédric Jimenez
  • Cast: Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Mia Wasikowska, Jack O’Connell


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”.

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  • Though Adolf Hitler is rightfully synonymous with the Holocaust, no less a monster was Richard Heydrich, whom the Fuhrer described as “the man with the iron heart.” A high-ranking German Nazi official, Heydrich, amongst other things, was the main architect of the Holocaust, the founding head of of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the intelligence operation tasked with eliminating any and all detractors to the Nazi Party by any means necessary, whether it be arrests, deportations, or plain cold-blooded murder.

    Heydrich, and specifically his assassination by two members of the Czechoslovak Resistance, has been the subject of previous films – most notably Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Also Die! and Douglas Sirk’s Hitler’s Madman, both released in 1943, and, most recently, 2016’s Anthropoid. Based on Laurent Binet’s award-winning 2010 novel HHhH, The Man with the Iron Heart (aka HHhH) is the latest film to cover the story. Split into two halves, the first section tracks Heydrich’s (Jason Clarke) ascent from disgraced soldier to the golden boy of Hitler’s regime whilst the second follows Jan Kubiš (Jack O’Connell) and Jozek Gabčík (Jack Reynor) as they prepare to carry out the assassination.

    “Stay away from him if you want to remain intact,” a woman warns Rosamund Pike’s Lina as she eyes the uniformed Heydrich during a party. Indeed, whatever courtliness the hulking Heydrich may have displayed in greeting the woman with whom he has been having a long-distance relationship is soon shattered once he has her at their designated hotel room. His rough ways soon have him court-martialed and dismissed, though this doesn’t detract Lina, whose aristocratic background and blonde loveliness belie a fierce and steely nature. She senses potential in Heydrich, suggesting he join the Nazi Party, where he finds the perfect outlet for his violence and aggression.

    The first half of the film is unsurprisingly often difficult to watch as Heydrich and his soldiers systematically exterminate those they deem dissenters with brutal and chilling efficiency. Clarke is fearsome, but Pike’s Lina is the more intriguing performance and character. An early scene demonstrates her fearlessness as she tames the beast that would soon become her husband. Yet there’s something missing in her transition from strong-willed woman to a wife overshadowed by her husband’s job.

    If the second half of the film feels less developed than the first, it’s certainly not due to either O’Connell or Reynor, who immediately convey a warm camaraderie that makes their characters’ friendship and commitment to their cause wholly believable. That inviolable bond lends poignancy to the final third of the film when they’re massively outnumbered by the Nazi troops.

    The film is elegantly crafted, with Jimenez doing excellent work throughout, but especially in staging the assassination sequence and its aftermath.

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