Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of Normandy in the last days of World War 2 and the actual beach landings of allied forces were referred to as Operation Neptune. This is just to let those know that Overlord was not pulled out of thin air for this film. There is actual history behind the title and even though it is played as part of the horror genre in the film, Overlord, Hitler and the Nazis were using medical experiments trying to create the perfect soldier. Thankfully, their madness failed but it gives director Julius Avery and script writers Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith a treasure trove of material for Overlord. They put it all to good use, too.
Overlord stars Jovan Adepo (last seen as Denzel Washington’s film Fences as his son in the film) as Boyce, a new recruit that is dropping into France on the eve of the Normandy Invasion. His fellow soldiers like Ford (Wyatt Russell (the real life son of actor Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn), Tibbet (John Magaro), Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite) and Chase (Iain De Caestecker) are some of the few survivors from the plane they drop from in the opening sequence. When on the ground, behind enemy lines, they encounter a young French thief, Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier).
The main objective of the soldiers is to take out a radio tower that is helping the Nazis co-ordinate forces to repel the allies. Chloe relays that there is a lot more going on beneath the radio tower that is unknown to the soldiers. Since the trailers have shown more than enough, this is no surprise to the viewers. However, to dismiss it is to cheat yourself out of a very fun film that is Overlord. This has been called a B film but it is better than that. It has a bigger budget and the quality of the film is better than a B film.
The strongest performance is from the lead actor, Jovan Adepo as Boyce. He is the conscience of the American soldier, doing what is right and fighting for freedom. Mathilde Ollivier is standout as Chloe, a smart and strong willed woman who has seen more than she lets on. Wyatt Russell is also excellent as Ford. His delivery is very Snake Plissken-ish with some of the very same hiss that Kurt Russell delivered in Escape From New York. Wyatt Russell even looks a lot like his father and has his swagger as well. The chemistry of the cast works, for the most part and the script does not overreach trying to be something it is not. It is juicy enough with clever one liners, some scenes of dark humor that work and Billy Ray and Mark L. Lester have written a script that does not insult the intelligence of the viewer.
Overlord literally starts out with a bang and never lets up. The energy of first time feature director Julius Avery is top notch and he knows what he is doing. The production values of Overlord are excellent, better than most B films, too and I especially enjoyed Jed Kurzel’s score which hits as hard as the action on screen. Since most films are only as good as the villain, the villain is extremely important and Overlord has a good one, Wafner (Pilou Asbaek, last seen as Batou in last year’s Ghost in the Shell and a regular on HBO’s Game of Thrones). Asbaek is an excellent actor and he delivers and snarling performance as Wafner.
If I had any complaints, Overlord gets a bit silly towards the end, but I didn’t seem to mind. This is an action packed, blood soaked blast from start to finish. Someone asked me how I would describe what kind of film Overlord is and I said, “If Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter got together and made a film, they would have made Overlord.” You can’t go wrong with either of these directors in their heyday.
Overlord – **** out of 5
Overlord – Rated R for harsh language, graphic violence and gore
Overlord – Run time is 109 minutes