Before the U.S. entered the First World War, the French were designing and implementing new aviation technology and these men were the first to fly those planes. When the movie began we were introduced to James Franco’s character, Blaine Rawlings, a rancher from Texas on his way to France to escape debt in the states. Once Rawlings makes it to France he finds himself among several other men eager to fly in the war.
Everything takes an unsuspecting turn during a disastrous first mission, which led to an ambush and heavy casualties. Lafayette Escadrille realizes quickly the reality of war and the tone of the movie takes a sombre change. We are then taken from mission to mission alongside the pilots of this unit. I didn’t find anything particularly special about this sequence of scenes. I felt that the depth of the characters wasn’t present and that led to a lack of attachment to them and especially to their deaths.
The following third of the movie depicts the harsh day to day experience of the pilots while being intertwined with a less than satisfying romantic interest in a French farm girl. After several scenes between a man who speaks English and a woman who speaks French, Rawlings ends up whisking her away from her war-torn farm to the safety of Paris where they eventually part ways for good.
Overall, I found the film to be relatively entertaining while straying from the truth at times it kept a cheesy war movie atmosphere alive throughout its two hours and twenty-minute duration.