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Review: WWI flier drama ‘Game of Aces’ looks good, lacks romance

Werner Daehn, left, and Chris Klein in the movie "Game of Aces."
(Synergetic Distribution)

In many ways, writer-director Damien Lay’s World War I caper “Game of Aces” is a pretty cool achievement for a film that reportedly cost just $500,000. It’s handsomely shot, feels authentic in time and place and has a credibly old-fashioned vibe that evokes a classic Hollywood tale of war and deceit.

The picture also sports solid star turns by Chris Klein as Capt. Jackson Cove, a cocky, hard-drinking American pilot flying for the British Allied forces, and Victoria Summer as Eleanor Morgan, a sharp-shooting English nurse and translator.

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They’re brought together to help rescue Capt. Josef Von Zimmerman (Werner Daehn), an “ace” flier (like Cove) and German double-agent, who was injured and left with amnesia when his plane crashed in the Arabian desert.

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This sparsely populated film’s smart, enjoyable first half provides some nifty banter, fun character bits and a few jokey surprises. But the story turns a bit flat and convoluted as secrets are revealed, allegiances shift and bullets fly.

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Unfortunately, a seemingly inevitable romance between the attractive leads never materializes; Bogey and Bacall, they’re not.

Still, Lay’s subbing of the Dumont Dunes near Death Valley National Park for a vast and dazzling Middle Eastern desert is something to behold, and Klein proves himself a nimble alternate for action-oriented filmmakers who can’t afford Bradley Cooper.

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‘Game of Aces’

In English and German with English subtitles

Rating: R, for some violence and language

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Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Century Stadium 25 and XD, Orange; Cinemark 22, Lancaster


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