Movie Review – Flyboys (2006)

Director: Tony Bill

Stars: James Franco, Jean Reno, Tyler Labine, Philip Winchester, David Ellison, Martin Henderson, Keith McErlean, Jennifer Decker, Christian Anholt, Pip Pickering, Michael Jibson

Flyboys is based on the true events of World War I where, before America became involved in the war, young men went to France to be fighter pilots.

In a lot of ways this is a typical war film, with similar characters that are found in most films. There’s the cocky, swaggering alpha male of the group, the guy trying to prove himself to his father, the religious one, the weary experienced hero who the newbies look up to etc, but the fact that it focuses on air combat gives it something different to a lot of other war films. The time in between missions back at the base gives opportunity for character work, and I felt like the group was developed well. While Franco is the star he doesn’t dominate the screen and the rest of the actors get to work with some good stuff.

The real highlight of the film is the air combat. It’s stunning and exhilarating, really tense and enjoyable. The director used the freedom of the air well, and this was only accentuated by the sound levels rising whenever there was a dogfight. I loved seeing the plumes of smoke fly through the air when bullets were shot, and the fact that the pilots could look at each other gave the battle an intimate feel. The battles were peppered throughout the film and each one came in at the right time, getting more and more epic until the explosive final battle.

Some beats were predictable, especially to those who have seen a lot of war films, and not all the acting was amazing. I was however impressed with Flyboys. Even the love story isn’t too overwrought, which I thought was a danger when it was introduced to the plot. It’s also nice to see a film about WWI for a change. I enjoyed this one a lot, and recommend it highly.

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