More from that occasional series


I’d seen the DVD of Flyboys in the shops a couple of times recently and thought I’d check it out. It’s the story of Escadrille Lafayette, the American squadron that fought in France during World War I before the Americans officially entered the war. It was slick, glossy, and implausible.

The special effects weren’t bad, although when Baron von Dachshund shot up Ted Studly’s plane without killing Ted, I began to wonder whether the fuselage was made of titanium. Of course, Ted wasn’t such a poltroon as to whack the Baron with a machine gun. Nope, it was out with his six-shooter to show that smug German how real men fight.

Ted also cut the hand off one of his friends when the latter got trapped in No man’s land when the latter’s plane crashed. It gave a whole new meaning to “one off the wrist”. [Though predictable, this still manages to be painful. –ed.]

Black Hawk Down.

Whenever Tom Sizemore is crashing and burning (he must be on the Lindsay Lohan Self-improvement-through-excess programme), he’s always described as the star of Black Hawk Down. Like Flyboys, curiosity got the better of me with this one. This is the story about the Americans and their adventures in Mogadishu in Somalia, and how an attempt to capture some of the enemy leadership went badly wrong. Basically, things went from bad to worse as first one and then another chopper crashed, and attempts to rescue the trapped soldiers kept running into trouble.

At the end of the film it said that 19 Americans had been killed. How many Somalis? 1000. Apart from one scene where some Somali fighter was talking to the captured helicopter pilot, the Somalis were merely a faceless horde who were there to get mown down. Were they really so casual with their lives? Did they really fight like such a disorganised mob?

The film managed to be gritty and dramatic, and managed to maintain its momentum in spite of its length. It also seemed that American forces in Somali had a large Scottish contingent, including two graduates of Trainspotting.


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