The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American fighter pilots during World War II. Segregated into their own unit by the racially discriminatory policies of the United States Armed Forces, they served their country valiantly and successfully is spite of the bigotry that they faced. The fact that they chose to serve their country at war, at a time when they were faced with racist injustices from the very government they served, stands as a testament to courage, honor and self-sacrifice and has earned their unit a name that has become a part of history.
Those fine, brave, heroic men deserve a movie far, far better than this.
“Red Tails” is one of the most poorly written movies I can recall.
The themes of the movie are inherent within the source material, I don’t believe that the film furthers them or expresses them in any way of note in any regard. The plot of the movie is straightforward, essentially a historical connect the dots of the missions of note in the unit’s service record. The characters aren’t characters as much as they are caricatures. Each member of the unit is given a simple, over-exaggerated defining trait so that the audience can track them, and then not developed beyond that. And the dialogue consists of some of the most stilted, dumbed down, expository laden, hack calibre lines I can recollect.
One of the first few lines is something to the effect of, “Germans! Let’s get ’em!”
If it weren’t for the special effects, I’d have felt as if I were watching an original production jr. high school play.
It’s not the cast’s fault. If anything, they perform admirably given the albatross of a script they’ve been handed. Cuba Gooding Jr and Terrence (it’s hard out here for a pimp) Howard have both been in great movies. And they do their level best here. There are veterans of “Friday Night Lights” and “The Wire” in amongst the carnage as well. I was pained as I watched them all do their best to shine through the cookie cutter, cliché laden clankers they were asked to utter.
The one redeeming virtue of this film is the dogfight sequences, although I don’t want to overstate their quality. The special effects were excellent to an extent. Everything looked realistic enough to believe in, even though your mind is never totally sold that you’re not watching an animation. And WWII dogfight recreations can be enjoyable to watch, for certain. Yet, even amongst action sequences, there’s always still a story being told, and the stench of the writing permeates the aerial combat sequences as well. Pilots are consistently arriving in time to aid each other, in spite of wearing flight masks and being in airplane cockpits no one – heroes nor villains – ever has a moment’s difficulty identifying each other, and if by the end of this movie you don’t wonder to yourself just exactly how many shots a fighter plane can withstand without crashing or exploding or, hell, even having difficulty flying… then you and I didn’t see the same movie, because these planes get shot UP, and the pilots are still whooping and hollering in victory all the way home to safe landings.
I normally avoid spoilers entirely in my reviews but here, I can’t help it, this movie left me a little ticked off, so…
I kid you not, there’s one scene where a pilot’s plane is shot up and he needs to be escorted back in order to make a landing. He’s losing consciousness, and his cockpit is filling with fuel. Literally, gasoline is shown pouring in on him like a faucet is turned on fully. When he lands, he crashes, and the plane explodes into a fiery wreck. Remember, he’s had gasoline pouring into his cockpit for at least like five, ten minutes. And yet they PULL HIM OUT ALIVE, and have the gall to say he’s badly burned, but he’s going to “be alright”.
The Tuskegee Airmen were willing to sacrifice their lives, but this movie doesn’t have the guts to sacrifice its characters.
The Tuskegee Airmen fought through racism and discrimination, but this movie doesn’t have the guts to pay that more than passing lip service.
“Red Tails” is cartoonish and over simplified to the extent that I tired myself out rolling my eyes, sighing, and scoffing at it. My bitterness over the fact that the subject matter is so ineloquently treated tempts me to give it an even lower grade, but the inherent drama in the source material and the occasionally impressive CGI dogfights earn it a: