Overlord review: From producer J.J. Abrams comes a blood-soaked B-movie of the gory glory variety, taking a band of WW2 American troops on the mission from hell.
The film follows a small group of American soldiers, including the idealistic Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and the brooding Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell), who are sent in to Normandy the night prior to the D-Day landings. Their mission is to take down a radio tower situated inside the Church of a small village. Little do they know that the Church is also playing host to a twisted Nazi science experiment, one which makes rage-fuelled monsters out of anyone subjected to it.
Overlord kicks off its action as a very intense ‘men-on-a-mission’ movie, very much playing up to its ‘Dirty Half-a-Dozen’ pedigree, mixed in with more modern action driven sensibilities. The opening is dizzying and bone-shakingly loud as our heroes’ plane is shot down over Normandy. It’s a hell of an opener and one which sets the relentless tone of action that the rest of the movie propels towards.
Before the mayhem really kicks off, the film commits a great deal of the build up to fleshing out our characters as they hold up in a young French woman’s, Chloe’s (Mathilde Ollivier), farmhouse, assessing their situation. With an SS Officer in their custody, the film goes a long way to establish Boyce as a character of strong moral backbone, never one to bend in the face of compromise, staying true to his ideals. His fellow troops, namely the clearly troubled Ford, aren’t quite so forgiving, more willing to unlock something more primal and darker within them to get the job done.
That something primal and darker ends up having a more than allegorical ‘unlocking’ once the film takes its turn in the second half. It quickly shifts from its men on a mission movie to a grindhouse-tinged action horror. From its first moments of wince-inducing body horror, to its man vs. monster showdowns, the film doesn’t let up in its bone-crushing action and artery tapped blood-letting. You’ll laugh, you’ll squirm and you will be thrilled!
The cast are all exceptionally game for the madness, and clearly relish the chance to flesh out their characters before the mayhem really kicks in. Joven Adepo, who you may recognise from Fences, is a strong lead, largely helped by the fact that his character proves very worthy of your sympathy. Wyatt Russell has never been more like his dad, taking on a role that father Kurt would most certainly have done in the 80’s. It is fun for this kind of movie to have a little devotion to character, giving you that little extra hook into the action.
At one hour and 50 minutes, the film is perhaps a little too long for something of this kind of breed. But, to be honest, the whole final third is fuelled by such manic propulsion, that it is hard to care all that much. The action occasionally divulges into an almost video-game aesthetic, as this feels like it has very much been driven by someone who has played a lot of Zombie Survival mode on Call of Duty. But there is no denying the kinetic energy in the action of this gloriously OTT war based thrill-ride that takes no prisoners on its way to delivering blood by the bucket load.
Bloody, brutal, bombastic and barnstorming entertainment.
Overlord review by Andrew Gaudion, November 2018.
Overlord is released in cinemas on 7th November 2018.