Once heavily speculated as the fourth instalment in the Cloverfield universe following The Cloverfield Paradox earlier this year, this J.J. Abrams-produced WWII zombie thriller turns out to be a standalone movie after all.
The story centres on a group of American paratroopers — among them are Jovan Adepo’s Boyce, Wyatt Russell’s Ford and John Magaro’s Tibbet — assigned on a mission to take down a church tower in Nazi-occupied France. But when their plane got shot down and left only a few survivors, the remaining paratroopers are basically outnumbered. Soon, they encounter a local villager named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) and seek refuge in her home for the time being while figuring out their next plan.
However, things get worse when they forced to deal with an intruding Nazi officer Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) as well as their subsequent shocking discovery of a secret laboratory located underneath the church.
Director Julius Avery doesn’t waste time getting down to business right from the start. This is evident during the opening air attack sequence, all thrillingly staged with enough verve and claustrophobic tension. At one point, there’s even a nifty set-piece where we witness Boyce freefalling from the exploded plane.
Now, if only the subsequent sequence is as taut as the first act in the movie. But the whole sequence during the second act involving the surviving paratroopers seeking refuge in Chloe’s house stretches way too long to the point it overstays its welcome. It would have been great if Overlord doesn’t slow down considerably and keep the momentum as consistent as possible.
Fortunately, the movie manages to pick up the pace again once the action takes place in the church tower. Whether it was the gunfight against the Nazi soldiers or facing reanimate corpses, Avery doesn’t skimp on the graphic violence and gore effects — all vividly displayed with a mix of B-movie energy and video-game vibe.
The ensemble cast is surprisingly better than I expected for straightforward genre movie like Overlord. Jovan Adepo brings a strong sense of empathy to his engaging lead role as Boyce. Wyatt Russell’s no-nonsense role as Ford is spot-on, even reminding me of his famous father (yes, Kurt Russell) back in his heyday.
The rest of the supporting actors including John Magaro’s Tibbet, Mathilde Ollivier’s Chloe and even Gianny Taufer, who plays Chloe’s baseball-loving little kid brother are given enough room to make their otherwise stereotypical characters worthwhile. Not to forget Pilou Asbæk, who hits all the right notes playing the movie’s main antagonist Wafner.