The horrors of war are the focus in Overlord from Paramount Pictures & Bad Robot Productions. It’s June 1944 and on the eve of D-DAY where a team of paratroopers is on a mission to destroy a German radio tower. Director Julius Avery makes the wise choice to introduce the audience to members of the group, whom we know will figure into our central plot. Among the paratroopers is Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell), Tibbet (John Magaro) and Chase (Iain De Carestecker). Naturally, the group’s plane is shot down, and the only survivors are Corporal Ford and fellow soldiers Boyce, Tibbet, Chase, and Dawson.
After suffering another casualty, the team runs into a French woman, Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who agrees to help the team out. As they make their way into the village, the team ends coming face to face with Dr. Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) who routinely takes advantage of Chloe. Along the way, the group discovers experiments are being conducted on villagers and captured soldiers and must decide to forgo their mission or help out Chloe and the villagers.
Initial reports and rumor were that Overlord would serve as a prequel of sorts to producer J.J. Abrams popular Cloverfield franchise. These rumors proved to be untrue as Overlord is more of a war drama with horror elements mixed in. Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith’s script takes a bit of real history and uses it as a template for their film.
Any World War II history buff can attest to the fact that Hitler wanted a perfect race and that he conducted cruel experiments. The script touches on these elements as well what happens to those who fail the trails. I respect the writing duo of Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith as their approach isn’t that far-fetched.
Regarding directing, Julius Avery proves to a cinematic eye for an action sequence. One of my favorite moments involves Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), failing out of a plane. During the sequence, Avery uses technical work to showcase the fear in Pvt. Boyce’s eyes and we feel every moment as Boyce descends to the ground. The other action sequences are also exciting and well shot, echoing back to the eighties style of shooting an action sequence instead of the shaky cam sequence that is often over used.
The cast is also quite good. Jovan Adepo brings a natural innocence to Pvt. Boyce while Wyatt Russell is an action star in the making. As Cpl. Ford, Russell has a kick-ass, get the job done and ask questions later approach which works. Pilou Asbæk is excellent as our villain Dr. Wafner, and as our final girl, Mathilde Ollivier is equally good as Chloe.
I do have a few gripes with Overlord. While the script by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith is creative, I knew whom all of the casualties were going to be the minute they appeared on the screen. I was also hoping to see more of one of the character actor Bokeem Woodbine, who only has a cameo.
Outside of my few small issues, I still recommended taking a trip to your local theater to see Overlord. Successfully mixing horror with action, Overlord is another winner for Bad Robot Productions when it comes to good old-fashioned entertainment
FINAL GRADE: B