In Like Flynn

Jacob Richardson | 22/10/2018

While In Like Flynn should undoubtedly be praised for its fun and levity, this schmaltzy piece of Australiana masquerading as a movie about Errol Flynn too often misses its mark.


Chronicling the early, pre-Hollywood life of Australian swashbuckler Errol Flynn (Thomas Cocquerel), In Like Flynn follows the titular hero as he and his band of adventurers, including Canadian Rex (Corey Large), young Dook Adams (William Moseley) and clinically depressed Charlie (Clive Standen), as they steal a drugrunners boat and make their way up the coast of Australia to New Guinea, in search of gold.


There are some truly bright moments in Russell Mulcahey’s directorial effort. He uses the picturesque Australian coastal scenery to tremendous effect. He infuses the piece with a defined, innocent (and somewhat naive) sense of adventure that is reminiscent of Flynn’s work in Hollywood. He also successfully manages to keep things fun, upbeat and frothy, particularly in the back half of the film.


He’s aided by some tremendous work by the nefarious, villainous mayor of townsville himself, David Wenham. Wenham takes charge of the piece in the latter half so effectively it’s as if you’re watching a different movie. His skill as a performer is evident, particularly when stacked against some of the other actors in the piece.


The weakest links are undoubtedly in Moseley and Large, whose work occasionally takes you out of the piece. The best example of this is in a confrontation scene over the shooting of dolphins. It’s a pained moment, with some odd cuts and a lack of interplay between the two, undoubtedly further exacerbated by the horrid rendering of the CGI dolphins.


Once the crew hits Townsville, however, the piece starts to generate a bit more momentum. There are some nice action set pieces, whether it’s a great slow-motion crash through a table in a bar fight, an underground boxing match or some drama around the breakdown of an engine. The problem is that they are too few and too far apart.


In Like Flynn is fun and upbeat, which is a welcome relief. But given that it only runs at 1 hour 46 minutes, it is disappointing that it drags too often. While Mulcahey certainly does tremendously well with what was undoubtedly a small budget, the fiscal constraints impact the vivacity and vitality of this story. What should have been a swashbuckling adventure (and what is best when it is) too often finds itself held up by character moments on a beach; saving money, but losing the audience.

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While probably not one you should seek out, In Like Flynn has enough good moments to make it bearable.