Up close and on your screen is the true life story of the aerial dogfighters of World War I. All the rolls and daring flying scenes will keep your heart in your throat. You really get a sense of how brave these men were to fly these minimalist planes. The story in the film was inspired by the actual and legendary Lafayette Escadrille.
What really stands out in this film are the special effects, which are so impressive that you cannot tell when they are actually flying and when they are not. The scenes of the attack on the huge German zeppelin really stand out as stunning. It sorta reminded me of the attack on the Death Star in Star Wars.
There is no backing away in the film of the brutal side of war and what the pilots did behind the scenes to distract themselves from what was going on. We get an insight into how these men dealt with the loss of many of their friends. It does not romanticize what they went over there and did.
Despite all the good parts of the film the story itself is a bit of a let down. It does not keep pace with the excellent action scenes. There is even a love story thrown in that feels just like that…thrown in. Maybe it was an attempt to get women to come and see the film with their partners. Whatever the reason it is a little weak. Several of the characters are quite one dimensional with no real back story or character development. I was looking for reasons to care when some got killed and did not find many.
During World War I many Americans volunteered for service and ended up in France being trained to fly fighter planes. Many young men who wished for a purpose in life and were thrill seekers volunteered to fly planes. They were the U.S.'s first fighter pilots. This was 1917, before the U.S. officially entered the War, and the Allies were suffering defeats at the hands of the Germans. The Germans were better trained and flew better planes and as such the average life expectancy of an Allied pilot was 3 to 6 weeks.
Blaine Rawlings (James Franco – Spider-Man, Annapolis) leaves the U.S. after getting into some trouble after his family ranch is foreclosed. Once in France he joins the Lafayette Escadrille with other Americans. Briggs Lowry (Tyler Labine – My Boss's Daughter, Get Carter) is from a rich family and has much to prove to his demanding father. An African-American boxer, Eugene Skinner (Abdul Salis – Love Actually, Sahara), who was already in France, becomes one of the first Black fighter pilots after his boxing career stalls. The young men are taught to fly by Captain Georges Thenault (Jean Reno – The Da Vinci Code, The Pink Panther – 2006) and led by the sullen American pilot, Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson – The Ring, Smokin' Aces). With what is going on around them these young men must quickly learn to fly like an ace or they won't come back.
-Real Heroes: The Lafayette Escadrille
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