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In Like Flynn
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Russell Mulcahy
prd Corey Large, James M Vernon
scr Marc Furmie, Steve Albert, Luke Flynn, Corey Large
with Thomas Cocquerel, Corey Large, William Moseley, Clive Standen, Isabel Lucas, David Wenham, Dan Fogler, David Hennessey, Callan Mulvey, Grace Huang, Nathalie Kelley, Costas Mandylor
release Aus 11.Oct.18, US 25.Jan.19
This lively movie is based on Errol Flynn's memoir of his early years before Hollywood, which even he admitted was exaggerated. So director Russell Mulcahy shoots it like a simplistic, corny Indiana Jones-style romp. As a mindless adventure, it has enough visual panache to almost make it watchable. But it's choppy and superficial, never finding an angle that catches the imagination.
On a movie location-scouting expedition to Papua New Guinea in 1930, the Aussie Flynn (Cocquerel) emerges as a daring, unflappable adventurer. With his Canadian pal Rex (Large), he navigates Sydney's criminal underworld, then sets sail to find gold in the South Pacific with Rex, posh Englishman Adams (Moseley) and rough-hewn sailor Charlie (Standen). Along the way, they get in trouble with lots of locals, and Flynn runs into his angry ex Rose (Lucas) in a brothel. Chased by angry goons and plagued by seagoing calamities, their friendship is pushed to the breaking point.
The film is packed with whizzy but oddly truncated set-pieces featuring random bar brawls, giant crocodiles, acrobatics on tropical beaches, fistfights, salty sea-life stories, saucy girls, shootouts, fiery shipwrecks, angry opium traders and more bar brawls. Virtually every moment is awash in cliches, which eliminates the sense that it's a true story. This also removes suspense, romance and proper drama from the screen, which is a problem as the film gets increasingly serious and sentimental.
Cocquerel is a lean, scruffy leading man, although he, Large and Moseley are a little stiff as swashbucklers. At least they play their camaraderie as likeably spiky, and they have fun with the physicality. But the script and direction never get under their skin or allow them to express even a hint of sexuality. The supporting actors are even broader caricatures lifted from other movies (Fogler from King Kong, Standen from Jaws, Wenham from Harry Potter). The women are even worse, little more than prostitutes.
Shot in picturesque locations, much of the film looks great, most notably the sequences in pristine blue water. This helps distract from the otherwise cheap and cheesy production values. But nothing can make up for a paper-thin script that fails to make anything of the central character or his connections with people around him. He comes across as less of the clearly intended swaggering rogue than a hapless pretty-boy thug. This could be closer to the truth, but a movie needs to play more inventively with the legend.
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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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