Russell Mulcahy, famed director of Highlander has put together a light-hearted adventure called, In Like Flynn, about the early life of actor Errol Flynn. The movie begins in 1930, where young Errol (Thomas Cocquerel) is deep in the jungles of Papa New Guinea, filling in as a guide for a group of filmmakers looking for background stock footage. The group soon encounters mutilated dead bodies and a murderous and angry indigenous tribe, who throw spears and blow poisonous darts at them. Flynn and his colleagues manage to narrowly escape by fleeing the jungle and swimming through crocodile invested waters to their canoe. The expedition also results in the untimely death of one of Flynn’s close indigenous friends.
Distraught over the calamitous expedition, Flynn returns home to his native Sydney Australia to visit his Canadian boxer friend Rex (Corey Large). Instead of catching up on old times, Flynn soon finds himself on the run from gangsters and Chinese pirates after a brawl in a gambling den. In the midst of this, Flynn manages to steal a boat, the Sirocco and convinces Rex to help him find gold deposits in Papa New Guinea. Joining the two men on this adventure, are Charlie (Clive Standen), a suicidal WWI veteran and Dook (William Moseley) ace navigator and sharp shooter.
On their voyage to Papa New Guinea, the Sirocco hugs the coast of Australia. When their boat runs into some engine trouble, Flynn decides to stopover in Townsville to get repairs done. In town, the men run into corrupt mayor Christian Travers (David Wenham). After Flynn knocks out a local boxer in a pub fight, Travers invites him to compete in an underground boxing match. However, Travers wants Flynn to lose in the third round or else his boat will remain unrepaired. Flynn and his friends must survive Townsville, rough seas and each other’s company if they want a chance at gold prospecting.
Director Mulcahy brings a campy and buoyant touch to the movie. In Like Flynn’s tone felt inspired by some of the adventure films of the 1950’s such as Byron Haskin’s Treasure Island (1950) or Richard Fleischer’s The Vikings (1958). If you removed some of the CGI blood, In Like Flynn would not feel out of place shown on the Disney Channel on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
As protagonist Errol Flynn, actor Thomas Cocquerel, is not particularly charismatic nor does he look like the real life actor, but he’s not an irritating or unlikable lead. However, he does get beat up too many times for my liking. The real acting standout is Clive Standen (Rollo from Vikings) who looks almost unrecognizable as the overweight, haggardly and depressed sailor Charlie.
Visually, cinematographer Peter Holland brings a bright, clean look to the proceedings and make excellent use of the vibrant Gold Coast, Australia locations.
Neither spectacular nor underwhelming, In Like Flynn, is a decent choice for those looking for a breezy ‘true life’ adventure tale.