FLYBOYS (Tony Bill). 137 minutes. Opens Friday (September 22). For venues and times, see Movies, page 105. Rating: N Rating: NNNNN
This is such a pure propagandistic glory-of-war hymn that it can't even be bothered to construct a story.
In 1916, before the U.S. joins World War I, some young Americans go to France and join the Lafayette Escadrille, a sort of airborne Foreign Legion, where they become the first American fighter pilots. They fly, they fight and some die. They have vestigial clichéd character traits - the black guy is resentful, the rich guy's a prig. But they're irrelevant. There's a girl, but she's irrelevant, too, except as the object of a mid-picture rescue, itself irrelevant.
The acting, competent and undistinguished on all fronts, is likewise irrelevant.
Which leaves the flying sequences. There is an eerie beauty to the thought of killing and dying under the summer sun in those lovely, fragile biplanes, but veteran TV director Tony Bill sees only a conventionally pretty setting for conventionally shot action sequences.
To be fair, the attack on the zeppelin is good, mindless fun. But the rest are just so-so and more suggestive of green screen and miniatures than of actual stunt flying, though 12 pilots are credited.
Trevor Rabin's overblown score turns literally hymnal when the final battle gets going, just so we can't mistake the message. It is to puke. You'd swear the Pentagon financed the whole thing.