(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Hybrid war movie/horror flick takes place on the night before the Normandy invasion where a mission to take out a communications tower goes horribly awry. After their plane is hit, four surviving American soldiers, Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Ford (Wyatt Russell, Kurt’s son), Tibbet (John Magaro) and Chase (Iain De Caestecker) find themselves on the run from German soldiers in rural France. Now behind enemy lines, the commandos are snuck into a German occupied village by the beautiful Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who lives there with her little brother Paul (Gianny Taufer) and her sick aunt (Meg Foster). Soon the four find out that the Germans, under the command of sadistic Hauptsturmführer Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) are conducting sinister experiments under the local church…experiments right out of a nightmare and whose product may change the course of the war.
Flick is directed effectively and energetically by Julius Avery from a homage-filled script by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith. There are some solid action scenes, some good gore, when it gets going, and the heroes are a likable bunch as are the villains detestable. There are some nice nods to it’s influences and the makers have some fun with classic war movie tropes and characters, like the wise guy soldier with the NYC accent and the precocious foreign child who develops a liking towards him. It is a fun movie, though one that doesn’t fully deliver on it’s promises. Where the film falters, is that it doesn’t focus enough on the horror elements and spends a lot of time at Chloe’s home in the village, before our heroes finally assault the church. Then it’s over without really delivering the battle between man and Wafner’s squad of Frankenstein monsters we came to see. We hardly spend any time with the scientist actually conducting the experiments (Erich Redman), nor do we get any clue as to what the substance is bubbling out of the ground that is the basis for the Nazis’ work. We get glimpses of atrocities when Boyce sneaks into the Nazi stronghold, but when the climactic assault finally happens it focuses on a serum-jacked Wafner and the experimental soldiers barely play a part. What was the point of introducing them if they never really become part of the action? Make no mistake, the action scenes are fast and furious when they come and overall this is an enjoyable action/horror, it’s just one that fails to really live up to it’s promises and that is where it stumbles. On a technical level it’s a top notch production with an especially effective score by Jed Kurzel and strong cinematography by Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner.
The cast are good and using lesser known faces only helps one suspend disbelief in what they are watching. Jovan Adepo makes a solid hero as Boyce, a compassionate man who may not be cut out for war, but does have courage when needed. The actor is charming and engaging. Wyatt Russell is a chip off of his father as the war hardened corporal Ford. He’s a bit of a hard-ass, but one endears to him nonetheless. Magaro is fun as the clichéd soldier from New York talking like he just came from an old Bowery Boys movie. Caestecker is good as Chase, more photographer than soldier and a bit too timid for this kind of mission. Mathilde Ollivier makes an impression as Chloe. She’s strong and a fighter and makes the sacrifices she needs to, to keep her family safe. Pilou Asbæk has a stereotypical role as the power-hungry and sadistic Wafner, but one feels that this is on purpose and the character is a homage to classic war movie bad guys. Gianny Taufer is cute as Paul and sadly Meg Foster has no dialogue and is unrecognizable under her make-up as Chloe’s aunt.
In conclusion, this is not a film one needs to run out and see, yet is still fun and entertaining, especially if one reigns in the expectations. The action is well-choreographed and when the horror elements present themselves, they are effective and can be quite gruesome. Where the film lets it’s audience down is that it takes quite some time to really get going and then it’s over too quickly once it does. It promises us freakish products of horrible experiments, but they are actually not as large a part of the action as we were led to believe…or hoped they would be. They kind of sit on the sidelines save for a few appearances. It’s a bit of a letdown, despite the fact that the film is well made and effective in what it does do. Not a bad movie at all, just one that doesn’t fully deliver what the trailers promised.
On a personal note…IMO, running a mediocre rap song over the end credits, instead of the more fitting, classic AC/DC song that played perfectly in the trailer, just didn’t work at all. Just came across as awkward and didn’t fit the tone of the film we just watched.
Rated 3 bullets.