And they go down
- Trailer: Flyboys
Sydney Morning Herald. February 9, 2007
Benito di Fonzo shoots down some not-so-magnificent men and their flying machines.
Since such classics as Wings (1927), Hell's Angels (1930) and The Blue Max (1966), few films have attempted to put on screen the complex and dangerous manoeuvring of the flimsy World War I biplanes that battled above the trenches.
Producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day) attempts to remedy that with the epic Flyboys, much of which consists of close-up dogfights made possible by live footage and computer imagery.
Directed by pilot and war-plane enthusiast Tony Bill, the film stars New Zealand actor Martin Henderson, currently on screen in Smokin' Aces, as bitter flying ace Reed Cassidy. Along with Captain Thenault (Jean Reno), Cassidy preaches the realities of war to the adventure-seeking young American pilots led by Blaine Rawlings (Spider-Man's James Franco) that made up the Lafayette Escadrille in the years before the US officially entered the war.
The script has been criticised as an amalgam of war-movie cliches and stereotypes, but filming it was a dream come true for Henderson.
"My grandfather was in the [Royal Air Force] in World War II so I grew up listening to his stories of flying Lancaster bombers. He and I spent many an afternoon on the couch watching The Battle of Britain and The Dam Busters."
Henderson was perhaps a little overenthusiastic on set.
"Every time I went up [in a biplane] I loved it so much I kept smiling. My character's supposed to be this seasoned cynical veteran who's been in the war for years, so I had to go up and reshoot stuff because I was having too much fun."
Was Henderson concerned about romanticising war?
"That did cross my mind, given that America [is] at war. I don't know if it glorifies war. There's nothing attractive about burning to death in a little cockpit whilst plummeting towards the ground and being shot in the face by machine guns."
Director Tony Bills
Stars James Franco, Jean Reno, Martin Henderson
Rated M. Opens Thursday.