Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro
Director: Julius Avery
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that’s crucial to the invasion’s success. Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower. But, in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered G.I.s come face-to-face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen. From producer J.J. Abrams, Overlord is a thrilling, pulse-pounding action adventure with a twist.
If you are going to make a B-level action movie, you need to embrace just how ridiculous the plot is and base your movie around this premise. The thing that makes Overlord so special is that the cast and story are so ridiculous and over-the-top that you are only able to sit back and enjoy yourself when you watch it. The gore is excessive and brutal, the story is interesting if not a bit redundant, and the characters are extreme, and honestly I would not have it any other way.
The film follows a group of American soldiers during World War II who land in France the day before D-Day with the intention of knocking out a German-occupied radio tower before the Allied troops hit the beach in the morning. When they discover that the town is not what it seems to be and what the Nazis are doing to the citizens of this occupied town, their mission turns from a chance to help their troops to one of survival. Just based purely on the premise of this movie, you would think this is nothing that we have not seen before, so why should I be excited for a movie like this? Considering producer J.J. Abram’s past work with action and science-fiction movies, you can be pretty confident that this movie will have a strong attention to detail and a coherent and well thought out plot. I am not sure how good this movie would have been without Abram’s influence, but it is very apparent through the fluid, fun, story and the effective yet meaningful gore. Turning things over to the director, I have never heard of Avery before this film, but I am excited to see more of what he has to offer. Having done one other feature-length before Overlord, Avery has solidified his spot in the industry as someone I would ask to direct a movie like this in the future. Much of this success can be contributed to the performances by Adepo and Russell, who appear to be the only two who are not caricatures and have the necessary level of depth to keep the movie going. Adepo acted like all of us would if we were placed in a similar situation and truly displayed the level of fear and anxiety that a young soldier would have if faced with this reality. Russell on the other hand plays your typical grizzled war veteran who focuses exclusively on the mission, but Russell is at least emotive enough where we understand that his decision-making comes not from a place of hatred or coldness, but rather from a willingness to survive that exists in all of us. While the acting from these two was enjoyable, I particularly enjoyed the effects that were used to show the impact of the experiments on its subjects. While this is primarily a sci-fi movie, these scenes are honestly pretty terrifying with some pretty intense and disturbing imagery. I would expect nothing less from a film with Abrams’s name attached to it, but these scenes really drove the point home and showed us the extent of what people will do and who they will harm for the sake of winning a war.
Overall, while Overlord seems to be a very generic film on paper, it embraces the elements that it knows will work well and delivers a quality product to the audience. The action scenes are fun and fluid, the main characters have a little more depth than usual, and the level of fear is better than what I was anticipating. When I saw the first trailer for this film, I had my doubts and did not expect it to be very good. Every once in a while, a film greatly defies my expectations for it, and right now Overlord is that film.
Overall Score: 8/10