How come nobody told me that this absolutely brutal Nazi killing spree would be the feel good movie of the year?
Synopsis: With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that’s crucial to the invasion’s success. Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower. But, in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered G.I.s come face-to-face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen. (Paramount Pictures)
Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, and Pilou Asbæk
Writers: Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith
Director: Julius Avery
Rating: R (United States)
Running Time: 109mins
Overlord is, in the simplest terms, wild. It’s over the top in it’s violence, it has a campy feel but maintains intensity & emotion and it evokes old fashion filmmaking in the best way possible. It’s definitely something that’s not for everyone, but those who are brave enough to seek it out are in for one of the biggest treats they’ll ever get in their lives.
To begin, it is worth mentioning how this film is being criminally mismarketed. In the film’s advertising, the explicit use of the phrase ‘zombie’ is seen. However, this is not a zombie film, nor is it necessarily a horror film. This is an old-fashion homage to some of the greatest WWII epics we’ve seen in film (think Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line) that has a light sci-fi side plot to it. However, this is still very much a genre movie – the violence is graphic, and blood definitely spurts. This is definitely one of the most violent studio films in recent memory, and it’s slightly corny nature makes it that much more great. The old-fashioned part is a big focus too – with a black and white paramount logo in addition to a very sleek 1970’s esque title card, and just the overall tone of a 70’s blockbuster.
Speaking of inspiration, a lot is very clearly from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. In the same way as that film, this one is very much a film where you are rooting for the characters as they defeat their enemies. The Nazi’s are dirty, dirty people, and this film as well as director Julius Avery want you to know that, and they’ll prove it to you. The ways in which they kill some of the villainous Nazi characters in this film is amazing, in ways that will have every audience cheer and clap. Maybe even yell an f-bomb (I certainly was ready to yell at multiple points of this, and in the best way possible).
Besides the violence of it all, the talent here is top notch. Russell as Ford has proven to us in the past few years that he is worthy of fame, with great performances in films like Everybody Wants Some, 22 Jump Street and Ingrid Goes West – all of which building up to this performance which is his roughest one, as well as his absolute best one. He is definitely the standout, but there are a few other faces to note. Adepo, who plays the lead as Boyce is pretty captivating. Asbæk as Wafner plays one of the most absolutely terrifying villains in a while. The rest of the cast is good in their own right, but these were the standouts. Additionally, Julius Avery, in his second feature ever, seems like this might already be his 30th movie (he’s got his craft down!).
Overlord played at Toronto After Dark for a reason – this is an upsetting, violent but mostly satisfying take on WWII, that handles the terror of it all in a way that not many films have done before – but a great way.