Structurally lumpy and tonally jarring, The Wings of Eagles fails as a biopic while triumphing as something more valuable—a comedy of marriage, an allegory of disarmament, a profoundly felt fusion of action and contemplation.
Ford's customarily rose-tinted view of military life, which here consists only of camaraderie, carousing, and a jovial, unconvincing leniency towards breaking the rules. The secret weapon of the film, though, is that rosiness is put in relief with glimpses of a home life given up. The contrast of hammy staging and meta/documentary elements creates a peculiar tension, but the storytelling needs work. For completists.
The raw but hearty brutality of flying and fighting marks Wead with the inner scars of broken love and with physical scars akin to stigmata; every step of his turbulent journey plays out like a mini-Calvary. Ford’s sense of martial duty is a vision of secular faith.