Film: Operation Daybreak

Based on a true story, Operation Daybreak (1975) has its dated aspects but is an otherwise effective World War II historical. Free Czech soldiers Jan Kubiš (Timothy Bottoms), Jozef Gabčík (Anthony Andrews), and Karel Čurda (Martin Shaw) are flown back to their homeland on a high-stakes mission: the assassination of Hitler’s trusted right-hand man, Reinhard Heydrich (Anton Diffring). Nothing goes as expected, but the agents persist in the attempt, which comes at extreme cost.

Viewers seeking a bleak, deglamorized film about resistance to tyranny could do worse than to watch Operation Daybreak, which benefits from extensive location work and good production values. Daybreak is an ironic name for this operation (the real codename was “Anthropoid”); it’s a messy, less-than-clockwork operation, to say the least. The performances are merely decent, and the soundtrack is weakened by third-rate synthesizers, but overall the story feels authentic, and the frantic action sequences in the final act are memorable.

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