Flyboys (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/05/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 138 mins

Engaging, smartly directed wartime adventure with impressive performances and stunning special effects sequences.

What's it all about?
Based on real events, Flyboys stars James Franco as cocky Texan Blaine Rawlings, who volunteers for the Lafayette Escadrille and trains for aerial combat against German flying aces such as the dreaded Black Falcon (Gunnar Winbergh). His comrades include several other young Americans, most notably African-American boxing champ Eugene Skinner (Abdul Sallis) and posh boy Briggs Lowry (Tyler Labine), who's trying to make his father proud.

Once they've received training, the team embark on several exciting adventures. Along the way, Blaine falls for a local girl (Jennifer Decker) and gradually earns the respect of both hotshot loner pilot Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson) and gruff group captain Captain Thenault (Jean Reno).

The Good
Put simply, Flyboys is worth seeing for its astonishing special effects sequences alone – the dogfights achieved using a mixture of replica planes and seamless CGI imagery are nothing short of spectacular. Consequently, the aerial battle sequences are excitingly staged and there's a stunning climax involving an exploding Zeppelin that has to be seen to be believed.

Franco makes an engaging lead and there's genuine chemistry between him and Decker, whose character speaks very little English, even if the underwritten love story is the least successful aspect of the film. There's also strong support from Reno and Henderson, but particularly Sallis, who manages to transcend the obvious stereotype.

The Great
This is very much a Boy's Own-style adventure movie and there's not really much depth to any of the characters, but the actors make up for that with spirited, likeable performances. Similarly, the plot is simplistic and the dialogue is frequently cheesy, but both elements are nonetheless effective, giving the impression of an old war movie or an action comic.

Worth seeing?
In short, Flyboys is an engaging, beautifully made and frequently exciting adventure movie that really takes off during its aerial sequences. Recommended.

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Content updated: 21/10/2017 18:28

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