I can’t help but wonder how many little boys or girls dream of flying planes. Do most youngsters want to design games or engineer the next best tech tool? In my mind, being a pilot seems like a life of glamour and excitement. And then there is the thrill of controlling something so … well, AWESOME. “The Pilot: A Battle for Survival,” starring Pyotr Fyodorov, highlights the courage and bravery of those airmen who paid a high price for their service during WWII. Directors Renat Davletyarov and Cindy Robinson give viewers a poignant, moving, gorgeous film.
Russian actor Fyodorov plays Nikolai Komlev, a pilot deployed to destroy German tanks in an effort to stop advancement. He’s shot down in enemy territory and finds himself in a terrifying fight for his life. Battling off freezing temperatures, wild animals, and German soldiers, Komlev longs to return home and to his love, Olga (Anna Peskova). While he doesn’t pay with his life, Komlev does pay a high price for his patriotism. He and others like him literally gave up parts of themselves to protect others and country.
“The Pilot: A Battle for Survival” is a war movie first, and some sequences pull hard on the heart and tear at the soul. Stunningly compelling imagery, vivid battle sequences, and emotional experiences make every scene mesmerizing. War is ugly and ruthless. Davletyarov and Robinson don’t scrimp on realism and action. They pace their story well by blending action sequences with more personal elements making the film all the more engaging. We root for the Russians and fall in love with Nikolai and Olga, who find each other despite the darkness and terror of war.
For his part, Fyodorov’s portrayal of Komlev is perfect – tender, passionate, and moving. He gives us the quintessential military pilot– determined to fight and more committed to surviving. Representative of so many who fought, Komlev fights valiantly to the end and returns, despite all odds, to risk life and limb again. While the supporting cast is strong, Fyodorov delivers a perfect performance – his expressions speaking volumes. When he and Peskova interact, we feel the love and longing, and their relationship offers a reprieve from the horror that surrounds and alters their lives.
Looking past the faults – like overt propaganda – “The Pilot: A Battle for Survival” demonstrates the determination of soldiers, the terror, and the sacrifices of war. Its sets are spectacular, air-sequences awe-inspiring, and the attention to detail impressive. Beautifully envisioned and ideally edited, the film deserves attention. It scores 4.5 out of 5 stars.