The Red Baron

THE RED BARON (Nikolai Mullerschon). 106 minutes. Opens Friday (March 12). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NNThe.


THE RED BARON (Nikolai Mullerschon). 106 minutes. Opens Friday (March 12). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NN

The Red Baron attempts to repackage the legend of German aviator Manfred von Richthofen, the First World War fighting ace credited with the most confirmed kills, as a Hollywood-style war epic.

Thus, Matthias Schweighofer portrays the aristocrat warrior as a confident, brash young rebel who plays by his own rules – and finds love with a French nurse who first hates, then warms to his love of aerial combat. (She probably didn’t, in real life, but that’s not important right now.)

Von Richthofen also played for the bad guys, of course, which is something writer-director Nikolai Mullerschon never quite manages to work around, despite shooting in English and having his actors affect vaguely British accents – except for Lena Headey and Joseph Fiennes, actual English people playing French and Canadian, respectively. The stiff line readings create a weird disconnect that’s never resolved.

The Michael-Bay-on-a-budget effects and orchestral score aren’t much help either. Nor is the screenplay, which juggles cliched arguments about honour and dignity with lines like “You should hook up with that nurse!” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the vernacular in 1917, no matter what language they’re supposed to be speaking.Norman Wilner

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