Let’s get this out of the way first: no Overlord isn’t a secret Cloverfield film. Full stop. End of story. It isn’t something that really needs to be stated. Yet over the last few months it’s been the driving narrative. Which is a shame, because the actual film that will arrive in theaters is an action packed b-movie that entertains throughout. Even if it runs a little too long in the process.
The title Overlord may not refer to a god-like alien being, but to the rather obvious WWII battle it famously stood as the operation name of. High above the French coastline, a US Airborne squad has been tasked the perilous mission of destroying a radio tower, resting on top of a church. Disabling this will ensure American forces are able to easily communicate with one another. Fail and thousands will perish.
After their plane is shot out of the sky, only a small band of survivors is left to complete the mission. Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is the group’s gentle soul and heart. Taking criticism from everyone else, his growth is key to the later portion of things. Tibbets (John Magaro) is the sharpshooter and resident temperamental New Yorker. Grady (Jacob Anderson) is the embeded war journalist, better equipped with a camera and gun. Their defacto leader is the focused Ford (Wyatt Russell). With only a few hours left to take down the tower, the soldier push towards the village. Unaware that an evil, darker than just regular old Nazis, lies ahead of them.
It’s almost startling how effective Overlord‘s action ends up being. Sure, it’s relatively common to make a war movie on any type of budget these days, but director Julius Avery captures things at their most visceral. Leaning fully into it’s b-movie vibe, guns don’t merely fire and people fall over. Bodies are ripped to shreds here. Both by bullets, knives, mines, other people, you name it. While it’s a somewhat simple move, it helps elevate the work. Coupled by a gloriously crunchy sound design and great camera work, Overlord would still prove to be a solid WII flick, even without the horror trappings.
En route to the church, the squad of soldiers come across villager Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier). She agrees to help them, in exchange for protecting her brother and ailing aunt. The streets aren’t safe, for the structures around the church doubles as a nazi compound. One where other horrors lie in an underground laboratory.
If there’s something holding Overlord back, it’s just how long things take to get to the rousing second half. The final 45 minutes are a relentlessly paced bout of insanity. Science experiments are uncovered. Mutated humans tear through whomever stands in their way. There’s sadly not enough of it, at least going by the expectations of the trailer. What surrounds it is engaging and fist pumping on its own. Enough to sustain those craving crazy, almost grindhouse level war action.
While Overlord isn’t likely to set the world on fire, it is a lot of fun when it’s up on screen. Wyatt Russell feels to be channeling his dad, Kurt, at times here. Even when there’s not a ton of character development. Technical aspects are top notch. Goop and grue drip from the screen. Should you end up worn out or bored at any given instant, just was a moment, as it’s sure to hook you back in. Ocassionally you want to kick back and watch a film that presents you with a good time, without pretension. Overlord is sure to scratch that itch.