Battle Over Britain Poster

Battle Over Britain (2023) Review

‘What General Weygand called the “Battle of France” is over. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin’.

Sir Winston Churchill, June 18th, 1940

That quote opens Battle Over Britain, the latest film from director Callum Burn, co-written with his father Andrew Burn. That’s the same team that’s already given us a pair of WWII aerial films, Spitfire Over Berlin and Lancaster Skies.

This time they’re covering 24 hours in the lives, and deaths, of the pilots who make up B-Flight. There’s the flight leader Cochrane (Tom Gordon, Eat Me Out (Of House and Home), Make It a Scary One), their most successful pilot Walker (Vin Hawke, The Terror, Original Gangster), and Cooper (Micky David, Edge of Extinction, Milk and Honey: The Movie) whose girlfriend Nancy (Hannah Harris, The Evil Fairy Queen, Along Came a Visitor) is also a pilot, ferrying planes back and forth for repairs.

Battle Over Britain 2

Rounding the members out are the quiet guy Sharp (Arnold Voysey, The Ventriloquist, Flow) and Stanhope (Chris Clynes, The Leprechaun’s Game, Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom), the new pilot fresh out of flight school. It’s pretty much the standard cast of characters for a film like this, and there’s little character development beyond Walker being a bully and colossal asshole who’s willing to disobey orders in his quest for a cash prize for the most enemy planes shot down.

What Battle Over Britain does give the viewer is a plot that consists of a basic cycle repeated over and over. The pilots fly into battle, come back, usually with fewer planes than they left with, talk seemingly endlessly, then fly off again.

Battle Over Britain 3

This wouldn’t be so bad if the combat scenes were well done. Unfortunately, while Battle Over Britain features better aerial combat scenes than several of these bargain-basement war films, they’re still lacking in impact. Way too much of the time is spent in the cockpit, looking at the pilot’s face and listening to them talk. When we do see some action, the CGI is acceptable, but what it’s rendering is rather bland footage of planes flying around, an occasional muzzle flash and smoke.

We don’t see any exciting dog fights, exploding planes, or any of the things one would expect from a combat action film. Even the climactic battle that sees the airfield under attack from an overwhelming enemy force is lacking any real fireworks and just limps to a predictable conclusion. Adding insult to injury, the CGI planes all look the exact same. They used one same template for all the Spitfires and simply cloned it, markings and all. The same with the German planes.

Battle Over Britain 1

I suppose we should be glad we get that, though. Ninety percent of Battle Over Britain takes place in a squad hut that looks like somebody’s garden shed. And it sits at the edge of a field that looks nicely manicured for something that constantly has planes taking off and landing on it. It’s about as believable as a couple of the pilot’s haircuts being worn by anyone, let alone RAF officers, in the 1940s.

There’s really little good I can say about Battle Over Britain. The effects are acceptable at best, the action scenes are exceptionally dull, and the script is predictable. I know the final shot was supposed to be meaningful, as the latest fresh recruits, a whole two of them this time, arrive. But it’s been done so many times, all I felt was relief the film was over.

Battle over Britain is available on DVD and Digital Platforms in the UK via Kaleidoscope Films. Shout Factory will release it on DVD in the US on May 14th, I would expect it will go to Digital on the same date.

YouTube video
Where to watch Battle Over Britain
Our Score

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top