RED TAILS is George Lucas' earnest but unwatchable vanity project about the real-life Tuskegee Airmen - the valiant African-American WW2 air-pilots who had to overcome discrimination just to get inside an airplane, let alone fight the Luftwaffe. This could've been the set-up for an epic war movie threaded with brutal political drama, the writing team either isn't up to the task, or isn't interested. Rather, this is a film full of thinly drawn characters, heavy-handed politics and dog-fights lifted straight from Star Wars Episode IV. You could learn more about the Tuskegee programme in a quarter of the time by looking at Wikipedia.
The movie takes place at an American airbase in World War Two, where the USAF's first all-black air group is picking off German planes in shitty hand-me-down aircraft, miles from the real action. After some lobbying from their Colonel (Terrence Howard) the boys finally get some new planes and a genuinely important mission - protecting the bomber groups mass-bombing Berlin. The mission is selfless - passing up kills to protect the B-52s - much to the chagrin of some of the corps - but nonetheless covers the group in glory. End of.
In front of the camera, we have a cast peopled with once-Oscar winners turned C-list actors (Cuba Gooding Junior), rap stars, a bunch of cast-members from THE WIRE, and David Oyelowo (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES). None of them do a great job - not even Andre Royo - but it just isn't their fault. This is simply a badly put-together movie. Anthony Hemingway's direction is workmanlike - John B Aronson's cinematography makes no attempt to show the reality of aerial combat - and John Ridley (THREE KINGS) and Boondocks creater Aaron Macgruder's script is as ham-fisted as anything every penned by George Lucas.
I particularly hated the way in which the racial material was handled. Time and again we see cardboard cut-out evil white people discriminate against our valiant lads before changing their minds because hey! they did a good job! rather than because hey! they deserve to be judged on their merits, and not have to work twice as hard for acceptance. The love story between Oyelowo and his white Italian sweetheart is also absurd - as if she could've dated a black airman without her family seriously kicking off.
The only thing of merit in this entire film is Terrence Blanchard's score. The rest can safely be ignored.
RED TAILS is on release in the US and Canada.