- Eddie Harrison
- 21 May 2007
Based on true stories about American pilots flying for the French Lafayette Escadrille in WWI, director Tony Bill’s $90m film opens here nine months after crashing and burning spectacularly at the US box office. And despite being delayed until after Spiderman 3 in anticipation of a wave of James Franco-mania sweeping the country, Bill’s film looks to be on course for yet another nasty prang in the old cabbage patch.
Franco plays reluctant hero Blaine Rawlings, although the name ‘Brick Lampjaw’ would have fitted the daft tone of this romp through war movie clichés, including the tearful goodbye to the sweetheart at the railway station, the cynic carping from behind his newspaper in the pilot’s bar, and even the faithful pet waiting at the end of the runway, in this instance, a lion. After 35 minutes of gee-shucks goofing and grim banter with authentically Gallic Captain Thenault (Jean Reno), Flyboys finally gets its ‘chocks away!’ with some colourful Aviator-style aerial dogfights, but shallow performances and a certain lack of pace ensure that this well intentioned film falls well short of the lofty standards set by Jack Gold’s 1976’s airwar classic Aces High.