Overlord (2018) is, quite simply, a blast. This isn’t your grandfather’s war film – it is made for a generation of Call of Duty players who loved the idea of mindlessly killing Zombie Nazis. Don’t let the premise fool you, though…there is some solid filmmaking going on in this action-horror movie.
Overlord was a lot of fun
The film begins on a plane full of soldiers on their way to destroy a communications tower in Nazi-occupied France the day before D-Day. Here, we are introduced to Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Ford (Wyatt Russell), Tibbet (John Magaro), Chase (Iain De Caestecker), and Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite) among a few others. The nerves are high as they are about to set foot into a war most of them were never prepared to join, which makes the gunfire and explosions all the more chaotic. The plane starts taking damage, and they are forced to evacuate earlier than planned.
The film primarily follows Boyce, though the other names mentioned are significant. They slowly regroup on the ground, but far less of the soldiers made it than hoped. Their mission is important, and Ford keeps the few survivors focused. They encounter a local French woman named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who is scavenging the corpses of the fallen. Initially, she is resistant to them but realizes these American’s could be the help her small village needs. It’s in her home that Boyce and the boys meet Wafner (Pilou Asbæk), a Nazi officer who becomes a prime antagonist for the film.
It does take a while before we get into the zombie elements promised by the film. However, the pacing is pretty solid, and the characters are developed enough that you care about them. In fact, despite Boyce being the clear reluctant hero on a journey in this story, I found myself caring about all the ragtag soldiers. The biggest surprise was Tibbet, as he starts off as a bit of a jerk – yet the good guy in him shines through all of his macho bullcrap by the end.
Russell continues to impress with each film I see him in, and while he is given a few lines that are kind of stupid – “Some questions aren’t good answers”, for example – but he can definitely carry an action role. Ollivier is a star that shines brightly in this film, and it is refreshing to see a tough female character in a military zombie flick. However, it really is Adepo’s film, and he carries the role of Boyce perfectly juggling his fear with his sense of moral obligation. He’s not just another soldier following orders; he is a human with a sense of right and wrong and a willingness to fight for the former.
Overlord is simply a cinematic chocolate bar. Sure, there are a ton of empty carbs, but something about it just feels so right. There is some nutritional value added by the almonds inside it, but really you’re just there for the chocolate. Luckily, Overlord succeeds at what it sets out to do – and it delivers a really good time at the movies, earning the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.