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A labor of love for director Tony Bill, this World War I drama was inspired by the Lafayette Escadrille, a French squadron of flying aces who were mostly American volunteers. The aerial dogfights are thrilling, but the script seems to have been written by Snoopy. It follows five new recruits as they earn their wings, among them a cocky Texan (James Franco), a troubled rich kid (Tyler Labine), and a black boxer (Abdul Salis) based on real-life aviator Eugene Bullard. The most risible characters are Jean Reno's gruff but lovable commanding officer and Martin Henderson's world-weary veteran flier, who keeps materializing out of nowhere to deflate the young trainees with some blackly portentous remark. PG-13, 139 min.

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