George Lucas, recently went on The Daily Show and told host John Stewart that it took 23 years for Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, to get to the big screen.
“It’s because it’s an all-black movie,” he said. “There’s no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made.”
The fact that it’s one of the first all-black action films may be true but I think the main reason that studios didn’t bite on the project was because the script is horrible.
After 23 years he couldn’t get a better screenplay? Filled with stock characters, terrible dialogue and plot points you can spot a mil away, Red Tails is only worth your time for the action sequences.
In 1944, a group of African-American pilots stationed in Italy are itching for some action in the war. Because they’re “Black soldiers” and looked upon as unfit to fight alongside white troops, they are given missions that belittle they’re skills.
When they finally get they’re chance to show what they are made of, they take to the skies and make a mockery of the Germans and they’re pilots.
The top brass take notice and give the pilots, which include Easy (Nate Parker), Joker (Elijah Kelley), Ray Gun (Tristan Wilds), Smoky (Ne-Yo) and Lightning (David Oyelowo), the chance to escort a group of bomber aircraft on a mission to bomb Berlin.
The flight sequences are fun to watch and they do look crisp but when they are interspersed with the awful pilot dialogue – “Take that, Mr. Hitler!” – I wanted to cringe.
They even have the main bad guy – a Nazi with, wait for it…. a huge scar on his face! When he’s shot down and his plane is destroyed, do you think he’s going to come back with all the vengeance of a 1940’s comic book character? You betcha!
Oyelowo is the only actor who left me feeling any sort of emotion for his character while Terrence Howard plays the stereo-typical hard-nosed Military Officer. Cuba Gooding Jr. was fine but I wish he had played one of the pilots. He has the energy needed for the flight sequences to put you inside of the drama of flying and getting your butt shot at.
If you want to see a movie about the Tuskeegee Airmen, rent the fantastic HBO film of the same name.