This stylish romp combining World War I heroics and the currently in-vogue plot device of time travel has all the makings of a solid draw in countries where older audiences are familiar with the fictional hero from Captain W.E. Johns’ series of Biggles books.
Script updates the WWI set piece to 1986 Manhattan via the time travel gimmick, which has food service entrepreneur Jim Ferguson (Alex Hyde-White) inexplicably hurled across the decades. Trouble is, he doesn’t know when this phenomenon will recur, which makes for some amusing (and not-so) juxtapositions of past and present. Best bit is his drop in to a French convent under siege, attired only in a bath towel.
Ferguson keeps meeting up with Biggles (Neil Dickson), a dashing, WWI British aviator who’s out to stop the Hun from implementing a hi-tech secret weapon which, as they find out later, is akin to a big microwave oven for men and machinery. Ferguson is aided and advised in the present by Col. Raymond (Peter Cushing), who somehow knows what’s going on.
Amidst all this, Ferguson’s co-worker girlfriend Debbie (Fiona Hutchison) has followed him to London to learn why he’s behaving so strangely.
Thesping among the supporting cast, especially Biggles’ mates (Michael Siberry, Daniel Flynn and James Saxon) is uniformly lively, but Neil Dickson as Biggles steals the film. A huskier, younger version of Peter O’Toole, he evokes a Biggles who’s survived on wits and more than a little luck. Technically, pic is topnotch, especially aerial sequences using vintage bi-planes.