About The Story
The year is 1916: World War I has been raging for almost two
years. On the Western Front, the Allied powers of Britain and France are
bogged down in stagnant trench warfare against Germany, and millions
of men have been killed. The United States remains doggedly neutral and
isolationist, preferring to let Europeans fight their own wars. But a
number of Americans have journeyed to Europe to assist the Allies, as
volunteer ambulance drivers and members of the French Foreign Legion.
Soon, some of these American volunteers form their own squadron to
take on the better-equipped German pilots and aid in the Allied war
effort. It is in this tense, life-or-death context that FLYBOYS takes place.
Texas-born Blaine Rawlings (James Franco) finds himself evicted
from his family's 900-acre ranch, and sees a new future in a newsreel
reporting on the squadron's heroics. French Foreign Legion recruit,
Higgins (Christien Anholt) transfers to the squadron from the ambulance
corps. Nebraska-born William Jensen (Philip Winchester), the son of a
Calvary officer, joins to uphold the family tradition of military service.
Briggs Lowry (Tyler Labine) enlists to make something of himself, yielding
to the pressure of his wealthy and powerful father. Eddie Beagle (David
Ellison), a cocky character who can't shoot straight, seems to be escaping
from his past. Eugene Skinner (Abdul Salis), a black American
expatriate, wants to defend France, a country that has shown him
tolerance by allowing him to compete and become a boxing champion,
whereas in America he would not be allowed inside a cockpit.
During the initial weeks of training, Rawlings encounters squadron
leader Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson), already a veteran fighter pilot at
age twenty-eight. Cassidy has seen firsthand the dangers of this new air
combat and knows few of these young men will survive. An object of
respect and mystery, Cassidy, the squadron's top ace, has defied the
odds time and again with more than 20 kills to his recordâ€¦but at the
cost of his own innocence.
Under the command of French Captain Georges Thenault (Jean
Reno), the French pilots put the Americans through vigorous training in
preparation for their first aerial combat. As the boys train to fly the latest
French biplane, the Nieuport 17, they quickly realize the gravity of their
situation: a pilot's life expectancy is a mere three-to-six weeks. They
learn that they are outnumbered and fighting against a superior German
military power. They are even denied parachutes, since the military
places more value on the airplanes than on their pilots' lives.
Soon combat begins, and Rawlings and his fellow pilots are
engaged in a furious aerial dogfight with shocking, devastating casualties
beyond their worst expectations. The highly-trained German pilots, in
their superior Fokker aircraft, are adept at coming from nowhere to
outmaneuver a French plane and shoot it down. The shockingly short life
expectancy of the pilots is reinforced with each new burial in the
In-between battles, Rawlings finds moments of hope and
happiness when he meets and begins to fall in love with Lucienne D'Arcy
(Jennifer Decker), a young French woman who lives in a town nearby
with her war-orphaned niece and nephews. Through her, Rawlings learns
firsthand the disturbing costs of war as it has affected her and her
family. When Lucienne's farm is surrounded by German infantry,
Rawlings risks everything to rescue her. Soon thereafter, he must say
goodbye to his new love as the chaos of war engulfs them.
As the pilots who survive re-group and prepare for their next
battle, Rawlings and his courageous flyers must leave their fears behind
as they face the deadliest battles yet, and all thoughts of idealism and
thrill-seeking take a back seat to a single notion: staying a
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