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In 1917, prior to the official entry into the war by the United States, the Allied powers of France, England and Italy were on the ropes against the German juggernaut. Some altruistic young Americans volunteered to fight alongside their counterparts in France. Some joined the infantry, others chose the Ambulance Corps. But 38 young men had a different idea: they decided to learn how to fly.
Their motivations for enlisting may have been different: Blaine Rawlings (James Franco) is searching for his purpose following the bank’s foreclosure of his family ranch, Briggs Lowry (Tyler Labine) is shamed into joining by his disciplinarian father, while African-American expatriate boxer Eugene Skinner (Abdul Salis) vows to repay his debt to his adopted, racially-tolerant country.
But under the command of French Captain Thenault (Jean Reno) and the leadership of American veteran Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson), these young American men took to the air with honor everyday as they risked their lives, not just in facing the formidable German aggressors, but also in boarding their newly-invented, mechanically-imperfect aircraft, which were being used in combat for the first time.