Starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbæk, Mathilde Olivier
Directed by Julius Avery
During Operation Overlord, aka D-Day, the Allied Forces’ invasion of Nazi-occupied France, a squad of American paratroopers (or what’s left of a company that didn’t survive the jump) are tasked to destroy a radio tower atop of a fortified church.
Unbeknownst to the GIs, the target also houses a research facility where Third Reich brainiacs have been busy playing God, experimenting on the local villagers with pseudo-science in hopes of creating a breed of super-warriors. (Kapitän Deutschland, anyone?)
Great, our heroes — Jovan Adepo as the rookie GI and the group’s moral voice, Wyatt Russell as the world-weary demolition expert, John Magaro as the cocky chatterer, and Iain De Caestecker as the klutzy photographer — now have two missions on their plate.
Produced by JJ Abrams and directed by Australian Julius Avery, Overlord is a gritty, highly ambitious, if a little uneven, mash-up of a WWII picture and a Mad Scientist Flick. In essence, they both deal with monsters: one involves humans turning into monsters, figuratively speaking; the other is about humans making monsters, literally.
Overlord’s combat sequences are well-staged; the opening airborne landing set-piece is terrifying and rivals the one in the ‘Day of Days’ ep of HBO’s Band of Brothers. But the segue into the creature-feature turf could’ve used more awe and oomph in its execution.
The beastly mayhem is a bit one-note, not quite the Aliens-meets-The Island of Dr Moreau batshit crazy spectacle the promos hinted at. (One grisly human guinea pig which doesn’t get enough screen time is a woman with just her head and spinal cord.)
Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell, shows promise as an action leading man; give him a few more tours and it may draw the Snake Plissken out of him. (Look out for a shout-out to The Thing!)
Elsewhere, Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbæk, the Danish version of Michael Shannon, is scary as an SS officer, and that’s even before his character mutates into an ugly abomination. Nazis are monsters, plain and simple. (**1/2)