Flyboys Tony Bill

Ah, WWI, close enough to us to be a modern war but far enough away to allow projections of whatever clichés we choose. Thus, Flyboys will not ruffle any antiwar feathers while still fetishising the military hardware that made "a new kind of hero.”

James Franco is the lone name amongst a squadron of nonentity American recruits; they’ve enlisted with the French prior to the entrance of America to the war and of course, they’ve got some hard knocks to learn under the tutelage of the dashing Jean Reno. Will the squad keep it together under German fire? Will Franco keep the love of a porcelain-skinned Frenchwoman? Will Reno cash a paycheque for six weeks work?

There isn’t anything here that you haven’t seen before, from the rag-tag nature of the recruits to the Star Wars-esque dogfights to the wise, grizzled old vet who’s seen too much and hates that German ace who always dodges the bullet. Still, the filmmakers manage to make things seem that much more ludicrous — nobody has any sense of 1916, so they patch things over with memories of other movies and laughably misinformed takes on how a fresh-faced boy of the ’teens might act.

One would object to the easygoing take on "adventure” in a war zone, especially these days, but since neither the filmmakers nor the target audience have made the right connections I won’t make them here. The whole thing is so completely divorced from reality that it’s quite pleasingly preposterous. There’s nothing here to separate you from your hard-earned dollars, but it’s cheesy enough to kill a lazy Saturday afternoon channel surfing on cable. (Alliance Atlantis)