Good people don’t like Nazis. The reasons should be painfully obvious and as such, they always make great villain fodder. In real life they committed inhumane atrocities that have stained human history. In film, not only are they responsible for these acts, they’re often imbued with a more fantastical fictional element in the name of entertainment. Whether they have bases on the moon or are rising from the dead, mythical Nazis are a tired movie trope but a fun one at that. They’re bad guys that no right minded person is ever going to sympathise with in the real world, in movies their bastardness can always be elevated with a little of the supernatural. Overlord offers nothing new to this genre but what it does do is inject a ton of fun into its 110 minutes runtime.
It’s the eve of D-Day and in order for the famous mission to succeed, a paratrooper squad must infiltrate a French village and destroy a German radio tower. The majority of the soldiers are killed when their plane is shot down leaving a handful of survivors that includes Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepoas), an idealistic soldier and Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell), a badass on a mission to fulfil his orders. The mission takes an unexpected turn when Boyce uncovers the Nazis secret plan. They’re building an army of undead super soldiers to usher in their thousand year Reich.
The idea of Nazi super soldiers certainly isn’t a new one but seldom has it been executed as wonderfully. Overlord is joyous popcorn fodder that revels in its pre code comic book violence and clichéd characters. There are little surprises to be had here such is the obvious journey of each character but it doesn’t make any less fun. If anything, familiarity breeds admiration as the script hits all the rights notes.
With a solid cast, Overlord get its villain with Pilou Asbæk’s Cpt. Wafner, an SS Hauptsturmführer. He’s all sorts of evil: slimy manipulative and cruel, the man has no redeeming qualities which makes him ideal foil for our heroes. Asbæk is brilliant in the role, playing it straight in a film that clearly doesn’t take itself seriously yet maintains enough dignity so as to be respectful to the material it deals with. In this man’s world, Mathilde Ollivier does feel a little like the token female. As Chloe, a local villager who becomes an ally, she isn’t given the same credence as the soldiers but then again, she isn’t one, she’s a civilian. It doesn’t prevent her from getting Ripley style moment as she accompanies the troops on their mission.
Overlord wears its influences on its sleeve proudly. It ticks off homages while giving a courteous nod to the literature that made it the film it is. With a tight script, intense visuals and a likeable cast, Overlord is a fantastic slice of B-Movie action horror that makes no apologies for its gruesome violence and formulaic presentation. Immensely enjoyable, I’m glad that the rumours it was to be the fourth installment in the Cloverfield franchise were false as Overlord deserves to stand on its own.