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'Wolf Hound': The Other 2022 Movie With Practical Aerial Stunts (But With World War II Warbirds)

By Alberto Cox Délano | Film | April 27, 2023 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | Film | April 27, 2023 |


Actually, I should be more clear: There were three 2022 movies with practical aerial dogfights, and this one is the other 2022 movie with practical aerial stunts involving World War II planes. The other one is Devotion and … you know why we don’t talk about it.

Wolf Hound is a movie I only came to discover because sometimes YouTube’s algorithm accidentally shows you things you would’ve never searched in the first place. Like, for example, digging through the trailers for Lionsgate’s direct-to-VOD library. But the trailer did exactly what it was supposed to do and it caught my eye within three seconds: Am I seeing two actual P-51s and a B-17 Flying Fortress on a B-movie? And are they engaging in a dogfight with an actual … Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane? Because there is no mistaking the real thing for very good CGI, and this being a straight-to-VOD title, there’s no way is going to have good CGI, even if it promotes itself as “From the Visual Effects Team Behind The Matrix Resurrections” and other stuff.

Indeed, the planes were real, and this is a real movie and a B-Movie in spirit, cast, and probably budget. I can’t lie, I had a blast watching it.

The industry’s transition to center itself on IPs before concepts has also impacted movies that are not supposed to be IP-centered. In the case of period pieces or war movies, their counterpart to being IP-based is being “based on a real story”, even if the “based” part is carrying more water than Los Angeles out of the Colorado River. I don’t know if screenwriters do that to gain points with flimsy studio execs, but the one thing you would expect is for a B-Movie to abandon any pretense of being based on historical facts. Nevertheless, Wolf Hound is based on the actual KG 200, a special Luftwaffe unit that, among other things, repurposes crash-landed American and Soviet bombers to do reconnaissance missions. The title of the movie comes from the moniker given by USAAF members to these planes.

The movie is basically anchored on two aerial scenes shot with practical stunts. The movie opens with a single reconnaissance B-17 escorted by two P-51s, and from the moment the first lines of dialogue are spoken through radio intercoms, we get a cavalcade of clichés and stock characters: The escort pilots consist of one Wise Senior Man and one Hero Protagonist, the captain of the B-17 is grizzled but fatherly, the crew members are Just Young Good Ol’ Boys, they talk about getting a go at Hitler, war is hard, a single man can make a difference, etc. Oh, and they are looking for a hidden nazi base somewhere in France, they don’t explain much more than that.

A few minutes in, they are intercepted by what they think are two RAF planes, but it’s a trap: They’re captured planes, now piloted by comically bloodthirsty Jerries. They shoot down the P-51 of Wise Senior Superior and kill him while he parachutes out. Our Hero Protagonist manages to shoot down the bogies, but the B-17 is still forced to crash-land in a Nazi airbase, the crew is captured, while Hero Protagonist’s plane is critically wounded, grounding the protagonist, antagonist, and his sidekicks. Also, the captured British planes have swastikas conveniently drawn on top of their usual RAF markings, at first I thought this was dumb, but the Germans actually did that.

From here onwards, the entire plot can be described using the kind of questions that answer themselves:

Does the Hero Protagonist quickly turn into a World War II Rambo?
Yes, complete with scenes where he takes on an entire platoon of half-tracks and one where he dresses his gunshot wound.

Does the Hero Protagonist (played by James Maslow, from Big Time Rush) deliver exposition talking to himself, since he is on his own for most of the runtime?
Yes, but he also does it when he finds the B-17 crew

Does the cast run the full spectrum of acting energy, from hamming it up to robot delivery?
No, they only ham it up and/or do robotic delivery.

Do all the German characters speak in English between each other?
Yes. I don’t think any of the actors are actually German, so most of them just do “ze agksent”.

Did they choose the scariest, most Aryan looking mofos to play the nazis?
Abso-fucking-lutely, with Trevor Donovan playing Hero protagonist’s rival airmen and nemesis. It’s actually hard to tell them apart after a while.

Does the Hero Protagonist leave an antagonist to die, even though he totally had the drop on him?
Multiple times, but otherwise, we wouldn’t get the final dogfight.

Are the nazis total assholes to each other every time they fuck up?
Yes, and it’s hilariously catty.

Are the nazis planning to use the B-17 for a secret bombing operation on its British home base, even though the movie takes place over the course of at least 24 hours, and the bomber’s return would’ve raised a lot of suspicions?
Yes, but they wave them away. This secret nazi unit is planning to drop wünderwaffe over London, obviously implied to be an atomic bomb. In real life, Hitler’s atomic bomb project had been thwarted by the Brits and Norwegians destroying their heavy water plants, but mostly because many of Germany’s key atomic scientists happened to be Jewish.

Is the evil nazi scientist in charge of the bomb a small, bald, rat-looking bastard?
It would be illegal if he weren’t.

Are the surviving crewmembers of the B-17 total assholes to the Black US servicemen they encounter at the base’s holding pen?
Yes, and it’s surprisingly historically accurate! (but later they all team up alongside a French Resistance fighter to take down the place… and it’s the Black servicemen who have to convince them to put aside their dipshitery for the greater Victory. Again, super historically accurate)

Were the nazi soldiers, many of them from the Waffen SS, trained at the Stormtrooper Marksmen Academy?

Indeed, which is very Meta.

Is the secondary nazi-boss killed with a bazooka?

Does the final aerial combat involve a B-25 Liberator somehow out-maneuvering a Messerschmitt?
Yes, because Hero Protagonist somehow had enough time to jump start a whole-ass bomber, but didn’t have enough time to get some of his comrades to jump inside while they were on a shootout on another side of the base.

Does the B-17 manage to get through British air defenses unbothered, no questions asked and comes within seconds of dropping the bomb?
Yes, and I refuse to spoil you how Hero Protagonist stops them because it’s just too awesome.

Wolf Hound is a movie that had no right being this entertaining while being so objectively bad, and not just because of the practical dogfights, I’ll get to that in a second. It could stand to be 30 minutes shorter, and it would’ve been actually good if the characters weren’t talking and delivering exposition all. the. damn. time.

But when it comes to the dogfights …

Holy hell, there isn’t anything like the real deal. The action geography gets a bit confusing after a while, but I can’t fault a low-budget movie for not being able to pull spectacular aerial choreography. They were probably paying through the roof just for the insurance on those priceless warbirds. But still, seeing actual planes chasing each other, strafing and charging at each other in a real sky, with real light bouncing off the surfaces is something that photo-real CGI still can’t match. A full throwback to classics like Battle of Britain. At the very least, the dogfights are more enganging than any MCU action scene over the last five years. I guess that is worth the rental price? It’s certainly a campier version of a Dad Movie if you are in dire need of one. I mean, sure, Devotion is an actually good movie, and the practical dogfights are even more impressive, but, again, there’s the problem.

Wolf Hound is currently available on VOD, STARZ, and TUBI.

Alberto Cox now considers Lionsgate Home Entertainment his new nemesis.