“Overlord” World War II Thriller Mixes Action, Mystery and Horror
By Liz Lopez
“Overlord” premiered at this year’s Fantastic Fest and judging by the audience in the theater I was in, the J.J. Abrams-produced feature film and directed by Julius Avery (“Son of a Gun”) sounded as if it was an overall hit with all the cheers each time the Nazi’s were taken down. The story Billy Ray created and co-wrote with Mark L. Smith into a screenplay is very engaging from the onset as the opening scenes of American paratroopers are about to be dropped into enemy territory to take out a tower run by Nazi troops. The close up shots of many of the members on board the plane are enough to raise any audience member’s pulse – it is as if the audience can feel the panic of nerves each soldier is trying to hide from others as they are approaching the chaos of war. When bullets begin to rip through the plane’s fuselage and other planes drop from the air alongside them, the question quickly arises if there will be any survivors before they actually have to face D-Day.
The “Overlord” opening sequence by cinematographers Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner is superb and causes the audience to highly anticipate the action leading up to the morning’s fight for the tower. Commander Rensin (Bokeem Woodbine) expects the troops to be ready for anything and even what they might not have thought of yet, but soon the lone survivors will discover that the Nazis are ever more evil than imagined from the stories they heard. They have to be stopped and the clock is ticking.
Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell), an explosives expert recently assigned to the paratrooper’s plane, finds himself as the most tenured survivor, along with loudmouth Tibbet (John Magaro), a quiet and terrified Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo, “Fences”) and a photographer/ war correspondent, Chase (Iain De Caestecker). There is no doubt that Corporal Ford is battle-scarred, yet ready to take command to stay on the mission to take down that tower, even with limited resources. The brutality of war is everywhere as the men who did not make it dangle from the trees and parachutes billow in the air. As their path crosses with a female French freedom fighter, Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), they take a chance putting their lives in her hands as they make their way to her home, surrounded by Nazi troops.
The real-world horrors of the Holocaust experiments hit the screen and soon the American troops discover the Nazis have developed a special serum to use for their new weapons. For this I won’t give up more scenes of what the characters face with each Nazi they encounter. One of the cruelest Nazi officers is Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) and in no time with his terrific performance, all the audience is yearning for the Americans to be done with him after all the cruelty he inflicts.
Most definitely know that the screenwriters don’t follow the World War II history to the letter, starting with the fact of how the real American Army behaved with their own soldiers. The film is alternate reality to what many experienced. Jovan Adepo is excellent in this action film.
Perhaps “Overlord” will not be for everyone, but for those fans of action, mystery and horror to boot, this is the film to catch this weekend as it opens in theaters nationwide. It is patriotism of a different kind.
The film is rated R and is an hour and 50 minutes.
Source: Paramount Pictures