The Man With the Iron Heart (2017)

AKA HHhH AKA Killing Heydrich

Director: Cédric Jimenez
Starring:  Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O’Connell, Jack Reynor, Stephen Graham .UK. 2h 

World War II has a host of characters that will be eternally admired and despised, routinely Hollywood steps in to honour the brave hero’s with a rendition of their stories, just lately we’ve been finding more names of brave men who rose up to fight the evil tyrants of the SS. Hopefully these reminders will help remind future generations of the price of freedom!?

There seemed to be a race to release a homage to operation Anthropoid, this particular movie, with a working title of HHhH (Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich),  was put on hold and renamed to make way for a film released in  2016 which took the converted and obvious title of “Anthropoid” , starring Cilian Murphy but is this really the poor relation to the saga? Poor, no but an alternative perspective.. just maybe. Both cover the basics of the 1942 plot by Czech resistance who sent two young recruits from London to Prague to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the ruthless psychopath who came up with an evil plan known as the Final Solution. 

Set in two distinct acts, the first, assassinated the character of Heydrich himself, highlighting his misdemeanors with prostitutes, inability to tell the truth and every weakness and flaw of the man is outed for all to see. There’s a pressing scene where he’s blubbering and throwing furniture around the family home  when his stunning wife, Lina (Pike) scolds him for his crying, tells him to stop this tantrum and to act like a man. This verbal beat down is almost a catalyst in propelling him into a 180 and he becomes a total tyrant that even she begins to fear. Jason Clark is awe inspiring in the way transforms character from nervous to cold and heartless.

Based on the extraordinary true story of the man who ruled the SS… and those who dared bring him down.

Part way through the building up of this total unit of a villain, Jack O’Connell begins to appear. At first he’s hanging a grenade into Himmler’s car, then the movie backtrack to this vital moment informing the audience that Jack plays,  Jan Kubis, an impassioned resistance fighter, he’s adept at working around a network of nervous characters and even manages to fall for a lovely girl,  Anna (Mia Wasikowska) who’s helping to keep his presence under wraps from the SS. The fighters really band together like brothers, their camaraderie really help ease the numerous moments where freedom fighters are being slaughtered by nazi’s, something which really starts to dominate the later half of the movie which slowly spirals into a dark depression.

“You are right. You do your job and I’ll do mine.”
-Reinhard Heydrich

It can be argued that the film lacks a little direction from time to time, but it does feel as if Jimenez was simply trying something new, trying to break the mold of the typical war movie. There’s a need to convey as much emotion as possible and certainly in the final scene it will be hard not to shed a tear, but what are we meant to feel for Heydrich other than disgust? Instead of just being presented with this chiseled jaw ayran we see what a total waste of space was hidden under his uniform. An attempt to suggest that anyone can be formed into a total monster? 

What is lost in translation along the way is made up by a stellar cast, Jimenez can rest proud that he got the absolute best from every lead, 

Rating: 6/10


Related: Anthropoid (2016), Swing Kids (1993), 
Lists: A-Z of the World at War 
Spotlight: Jason Clark, Jack O’Connell
Vs: The Man with the Iron Heart (2017) Vs  Anthropoid (2016)

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