In Like Flynn
Scenes that run quick slow quick slow quick, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, with not really much sublime in the mix, is generally a bankable MO for any action date-movie. For the life of me, then, I can’t figure why Russell Mulcahy’s new pic, imagining the adventures of Errol Flynn before he emerged as a huge Hollywood star, has been so poorly received. The period of the 1930s is well created, if a little cartoonish, the plot has a beginning, a middle and an end, with intrigue along the way, and the characters are sharply drawn. Flynn, like Ned Kelly, has had heroic status bestowed upon him in Australia, so if Kelly was merely a thief and a murderer and the swashbuckling actor a drunkard and an alleged rapist, we are never likely to let such trifles drag down an established icon. Based on Flynn’s memoir, the veracity of which has never been tested, the film tracks the journey aboard the sailboat Sirocco, which he boarded in Sydney with the aim of making a fortune from gold in New Guinea. For all of Flynn’s reputation as womaniser, however, the central relationship is that which he forged with Rex, his Canadian friend and backer. Both actors (Thomas Cocquerel and Corey Large – yes, there is an obvious joke there to do with Errol’s you-know-what) benefit from being unfamiliar to us, for they come across as fresh and without identity baggage. Cocquerel, whose facial resemblance to Flynn grows more persuasive as the movie evolves, is suitably swashbuckling while Clive Standen as Charlie, the skipper of the yacht, appears at times to be channeling Robert Shaw’s Quint from Jaws. William Mosely is Dook, the naïve young Englishman, and David Wenham has a swell time playing the bent, fight-fixing mayor of Townsville as the boys find themselves in one mess after another. It’s extremely matey without indulging in boorish machismo and, even allowing for the perfectly appropriate hokey ‘feel’, it manages to land an emotional blow at the end. I enjoyed it heaps.