Operation Overlord, the name given to the Normandy invasion during World War II, was horrific on its own. The nighttime paratrooper invasion that preceded the amphibious assault left surviving allied paratroopers scattered behind enemy lines. Bad Robot’s latest release, Overlord, tells the story of one such airborne team who finds more than they bargained for as they try to complete their mission.
The film, directed by Julius Avery (Son of a Gun), is nearly pitch perfect as a genre-bending war thriller. The action is intense, believable, and brilliantly shot. Meanwhile, brief moments of levity release tension in all the right places while simultaneously developing characters.
The story, from writers Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, The Hunger Games) and Mark L. Smith (The Revenant, Martyrs), combines the best elements of Wonder Woman, Inglorious Basterds, and Train to Busan. Rather than throw these story elements in a blender, Ray and Smith skillfully interleave them into a story full of tension, terror, gore, and scares … and then the horror starts!
Producer JJ Abrams brought in talented cinematographers Laurie Rose (Free Fire, Kill List) and Fabian Wagner (Justice League, Game of Thrones). The team’s experience with action and special effects-heavy films shows throughout the film. Overlord is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. Intense air battles lead to terrifying parachute drops. Meanwhile, tension-filled walks through enemy territory lead to stunningly executed jump scares. The photography never tries to hide or obscure the special effects. The result is a gory action film that you can actually follow from frame to frame.
In front of the camera, a magnificent ensemble carries the film on the strength of several solid performances. Jovan Adepo (Jack Ryan, Mother!), as Private Boyce, is our ‘everyman’ protagonist–a pacifist grandson of a Haitian from Louisiana. A villager asks Boyce if there is war there. His subtle response, “Not like this,” say so much with so little. Meanwhile, Overlord introduces Mathilde Ollivier to the world. She’s the “Sosanna” of this film–a French villager pushed over the edge by the Nazis.
Wyatt Russell (Shimmer Lake, Ingrid Goes West) grounds the film as the rough-around-the-edges leader. Like Aldo Raine, he’s not afraid to get as dirty as the Nazis, if that’s what it takes to win. Thus, he’s the perfect foil for our villain, Danish actor Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones, Ghost in the Shell). Asbæk delivers a sinister performance, reminiscent of a young Danny Huston, showing us what pure evil looks like. Stealing every scene he’s in, however, is John Magaro (The Big Short, Orange is the New Black). Avery uses Magaro’s comedic timing sparingly and effectively, showing us the makings of a future character actor.
Overlord is an easy recommend for all horror fans, but particularly those who have been disappointed in the last few mainstream horror releases that failed to really bring anything new to the table. Find Overlord in theaters everywhere on November 9, 2018.
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An intense war thriller mixed with terror, scares, and the varying grotesqueries of a world at war with pure evil. It’s fun, enjoyable, terrifying, and disturbing all at the same time. Horror fans who enjoyed Inglorious Basterds will probably love this film.