Overlord Review


I recall the first and only time I saw the trailer for Overlord; it was visually impressive and had JJ Abrams’ name attached, so I was drawn in.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t live up to its promise – such is the trickery of trailers.

Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is one of several paratroopers which are being deployed over France on the eve of D-Day to help destroy a German radio tower and thus help the troops on the beaches.

The deployment does not go as planned and only a handful of soldiers survive, including Boyce, the mysterious Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) and the mouthy and irascible Tibbet (John Magaro).

The paratroopers encounter Chloe, a young French woman, who agrees to help them on their mission. Her local town however is crawling with Nazis led by the odious Wafner (Pilou Asbæk).

Through Chloe and Wafner, the soldiers ultimately discover that the nearby church is housing more than just radio equipment. There are rumours of experiments on live subjects and Boyce goes to investigate…

Overlord is usually the kind of film I like, and it seems to have been embraced by the target market – but not me.

The opening is strong and characters seem initially compelling, but the film fails to keep this up.

For a start, it doesn’t feel as witty and clever as it should have been with the talent involved. Abrams needs no introduction, and the writers collectively boast involvement in Captain Phillips, The Revenant and The Hunger Games.

The cast do their best, but the characters are thinly drawn.

There are no strong villains: Asbæk feels wasted and another heavily foreshadowed character barely gets a look-in when he finally arrives onscreen.

Out of the paratroopers, Ford and Tibbet’s motivations seem flexible to fit the story needs, and the only strong arc is enjoyed by Boyce, who goes from a rational pacifist to a hardened killing machine. Pity, as Russell and Magaro seem to have charisma to burn and Adepo is clearly talented.

Tonally, the film also feels scattered. The concept at the heart of the movie is pure escapist nonsense, the kind of premise you would see amongst the trailers associated with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse.

The violence is often wince-inducing and at times, the style reminded me of S Craig Zahler, but director Julius Avery does not seem to strike the balance which Zahler achieves. The film overall feels a bit too cruel and mean-natured to be fun, yet too ludicrous to be taken as a straight thriller.

The ending leaves the door open for a sequel, and the film’s popularity to date may guarantee one, but for me this should have been a lot better.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2018