War Birds: Extreme Street Racing, in the Sky

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Fast and Furious may have done pretty well, but movies set in the culture of illegal street racing are passe. (Note, please that I use the term ‘culture’ there with the heaviest possible dose of mocking irony.) It’s time to push the envelope a bit. I can almost hear the pitch for War Birds in my head: it’s like The Fast and the Furious, with airplanes.

THR reports on the film, which is about “an Air Force veteran-turned-reckless airshow re-enactment pilot as he gets pulled into the underground culture of illegal, real-life aerial combat.” Current plans for the film include shooting with real planes (P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightnings, F4U Corsairs and a B-17 Flying Fortress, plus modern military helicopters and planes) and doing as much of the action in-camera as possible. All sounds like a good idea, but who’s behind it?

Directing and producing is Michael Chait, who as far as I can tell doesn’t yet have any other feature credits. He also came up with the story, which was handed off to Josh Staman and Bryan Binder to write. J. Todd Harris and Richard Jefferies are polishing the script, and working as producers as well. A first-time feature director making a big airplane action thing is difficult — Harris and Jefferies have more experience between them, and help push this along.

Casting will help — getting a name or two attached to this will do a lot of good. I love the idea of a dogfight movie done with modern sensibilities and classic in-camera effects. I’m enough of an old plane gearhead that seeing some of these classic birds duke it out would be a lot of fun. It’s got to be a hell of a lot more satisfying than Stealth was, though I don’t imagine that it can even come close to being as ridiculous.

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