Overlord - two movies in one!
It's rare that I go to see a film knowing very little about it. For Overlord, I knew it was a Bad Robot (JJ Abrams) production. That was it. It's even rarer for me to see a film that starts out as one thing, one genre and then flicks a switch into another genre. Overlord does this without skipping a beat and, do you know what? It gets away with it.
The film starts out with a rag-tag team of US soldiers in a plane heading across the English Channel. It's D-Day and their mission is to drop behind enemy lines and knock out a German jamming transmitter before the Expeditionary Force lands in Normandy. There is the usual banter between the soldiers which is carried off amid a mixture of stereotypes and quirky indicators of more to come. Their plane is attacked by ground-fire and the film steps up a gear and never really eases off. The early scenes of the fire fight aboard the plan and the effects had me on the edge of my seat and paying close attention. This was a film that was grabbing me. The team land, assemble in a forest a quickly find a gooey mess on the ground: is it a dog? what ate it? - a portent that this film may be something else. From here it's a by-the-book war film as they infiltrate the local village near the site they have to blow up. Our intrepid team soon find out there are dastardly deeds afoot and proceed to get mixed up.
It is at this point that the film switches genres. I thought I was watching a war film but oh, ok, now it's this. I was fine with the switch and this is down to the acting chops on display. Jovan Adepo plays Boyce, the hero of the film and we see most things from his perspective. We discover with him and we disbelieve/believe along with him. Wyatt Russell plays Ford, the leader of the team. Russell chews the scenery at every opportunity and it is an over-the-top performance that initially irritated me but by the end I was crying with him. Bravo.
I like that JJ Abrams backs quirky, low-budget film ideas. Remember Cloverfield? This is another film destined to be a cult hit and I mean that in a good way. Yes there were times I wanted to laugh at what was happening on screen. Yes, there were times I thought - how can these actors deliver those lines? But I went with it and enjoyed the ride. It's not a masterpiece but it is fun. Plus you get to see two good films for the price of one - even if they are sandwiched together.