Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier
Director: Julius Avery
Running Time: 110 mins
Overlord is an American film about a US Army regiment that finds itself behind enemy lines on the eve of the D-Day landings, with a vital mission to carry out in the middle of small Nazi-occupied French village.
Combining the war and horror genres, Overlord sets out to be an intense and frightening watch, and although it starts in rather strong fashion, it’s a film that just doesn’t have the depth or unpredictability to really grab you throughout. Despite some strong action here and there, as well as a likable lead performance from Jovan Adepo, I found myself quickly tiring of Overlord, as it fails to really keep you in the dark about its greatest twists.
Before we get into that, however, let’s have a quick look at what works well about this film, starting with the opening act. Opening in thrilling fashion with a claustrophobic and intense scene in a plane above the English Channel travelling to Nazi-occupied France, the film continues with in impressively chaotic and action-packed fashion over the rest of the first act, as the botched landing behind enemy lines leads to more and more problems stopping the regiment from completing their mission.
Director Julius Avery does a rather good job at directing some of the war action sequences, and while it’s not quite Saving Private Ryan, there’s an impressive intensity and grit to those early battle scenes, furthered by some of the more stark violence that the film is able to portray thanks to its R rating.
Another plus comes in the form of the lead performance from Jovan Adepo, playing a kind-hearted soldier who is forced to rapidly adapt to an increasingly difficult situation. Although there isn’t all that much to his character beyond being a nice guy, Adepo’s performance effectively shows the young private’s humility and bravery, something that makes him an immensely likable lead throughout, something that I really cherished in a film that doesn’t have any other real characters.
And that’s where my first problem comes in with Overlord: the screenplay. While it is first and foremost an action-horror piece, the film doesn’t have the relentless or jaw-dropping intensity of the likes of Dunkirk to completely forgo character development, and as the film draws on, and you’re still left with a small crew of rather bland and generic main characters, the sense of threat and emotion at play really falls away, taking away from the intensity that the film is trying to create.
Couple that with rather poor dialogue throughout, and you have a film that doesn’t really have the depth or intrigue to keep you engrossed beyond a simple enjoyment of the action. Of course, there’s no doubt that the film does a decent enough job with its action and horror, and as a more simplistic blockbuster, it does prove a fairly entertaining watch, however there’s little more to it to really impress.
Worst of all, however, is the fact that the big climax that the film is building to from the start is painfully predictable. If you’ve seen the promotional material for Overlord, then you’ll know what I’m talking about, but even if you go into this film completely cold, there’s so much blatant foreshadowing throughout that the eventual burst of action that the story is meant to be building towards doesn’t feel particularly exciting at all.
Overall, then, I found Overlord a bit of a disappointment. Despite starting in strong and intense fashion with a well-directed opening act, the film loses its way with a very poor screenplay and a painful lack of character depth, making it a less-than-engrossing watch throughout, even if it does save itself at times with entertaining action and a likable lead performance, which is why I’m giving it a 6.8.