Overlord, Sci-fi WWII drama directed by Julius Avery follows a group of American soldiers behind enemy German lines before D-Day, as they uncover more sinister events going on, the film stars Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek, John Magaro and Iain De Caestacker.
Part WWII drama and part sci-fi thriller, Overlord occupies a surprisingly busy sub-genre of War sci-fi/fantasy thrillers set during WWII, look at Dog Soldiers, Pans Labyrinth for instance, the time period continues to inspire dramatic re-creations of events and outright fantasy mixed in with reality.
This is very much sci-fi though of course, you have the northern, occupied French backdrop with American soldiers being dropped in, in the aims of softening German positions but things go awry and their transport plane is shot down, with a scatted unit and no connection to central command, the soldiers must survive behind enemy lines. This type of story may feel very familiar and that’s because it is, you’ve probably seen a variation of this plot a few times but there’s a difference this time, the plot twist is very B-Movie esque but with the budget and production quality of a mid-level blockbuster.
From gritty, visceral well shot heart pumping action that pulls no punches to some great visual effects overall, the action itself is unrelenting and bloody but there isn’t too much focus on the gore or violence, rather it’s there in certain scenes for certain reasons. This isn’t quite a horror film if that’s what you’re expecting of it, though there are some elements of body horror. Key components to the story are soldiers Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and their unit leader Ford (Wyatt Russell) who are the stand out performances in the film, though Nazi general Wafner (Pilou Asbaek) is also quite memorable.
Boyce is the happy go lucky soldier afraid to kill and do what needs to be done, a rookie if you will and going to a warzone may not be the best idea for him but he’s quickly made to learn the ropes by the practical Ford, whose methods may not be for everyone but he does what he can to protect his troops and his mission at all costs. The soldiers clash in terms of methodology and how they go about their missions, do you leave a man behind if he’s captured and may compromise a mission or do you go to save him despite the risks? Moral questions like this arise often in these types of war films but Overlord combines these tropes with the interesting sci-fi element. Yes it’s Nazi experimentation and the natural conclusion of Nazis trying to create super soldiers as they seem to love doing in fictional war thrillers, though they seemingly create zombies in the process, I say seemingly as they’re not zombies in the traditional sense but super-human beings nonetheless.
This fantastical element adds spice to the already engaging, thrilling story about an against the odds situation and while the plot is fairly predictable, it’s still a entertaining and certainly flies by in terms of runtime. The final result is a fun, gritty re-imagining of the late days of WWII and zany conspiracy theories about Nazi experiments/science but this is far from a B-movie and everything is played straight, which heightens the drama with some surprisingly good performances, especially from the main leads.
. Strong performances throughout
. Straightforward, engaging story
. Predictable plot