“To the last plane, to the last man, to the last bullet…we fight, we fight, we fight!“ – Terrence Howard as Colonel A.J. Bullard
What’s good: The special effects and aerial stunts are very cool.
What’s not good: Clumsy dialogue and silly plot points make this one painful to watch.
What happened: Many believe that there is no greater honor than to serve your country. Countless men and women have put their lives on the line for freedom and justice. African Americans over the years have heard the call of duty despite living in a society where they are not accepted. ‘Red Tails’ tells the true story of the proud, courageous men from Tuskegee who were willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of humanity.
In the middle of World War II, the American government tried to find different ways to defeat Hitler’s Third Reich. They reluctantly allow a group of untested black fighter pilots from the Tuskegee program into battle. These pilots are believed to have neither the intelligence nor the reflexes to fly planes in any kind of combat. The majority of the brass at the Pentagon thinks it’s a waste of time and money to let these college educated black men fly such expensive planes. They are determined to shut the program down but Colonel A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) fights to keep the program alive. All he wants is his men to have the chance to serve their country and fight in the war. Bullard soon finds a way for his talented pilots to finally join the fight. Unfortunately, it will not be in the way that they expected.
Jo ‘Lightning’ Little (David Oyelowo) is a great fighter pilot that rarely follows orders. What he does to a German train early on is both spectacular and reckless. ‘Lightning’ lives his life on the edge until he finds a really good reason to slow down. Marty ‘Easy’ Julian (Nate Parker) is the squad leader that always appears to have everything under control. He is responsible for the entire crew including Ray ‘Junior’ Gannon (Tristan Wilds), Samuel ‘Joker’ George (Elijah Kelley), and Andrew ‘Smoky’ Salem (Ne-Yo). ‘Easy’ soon falls into a destructive habit that puts everyone at risk. The Tuskegee Airmen must fight racism from their own just to serve their country.
‘Red Tails’ is a movie that wants to take a real historical event and turn it into a slick action film. There are more explosions and fireballs in this one than you can count. It was really fun to watch the planes duke it out in the air. The stunt that ‘Lightning’ pulls off against a German fighter pilot was very cool. David Oyelowo and Terrence Howard deliver the best performances of the film. They both carried every scene they were in and made an average film so much better. It is clear that ‘Red Tails’ focused so much on the special effects that the story and acting suffered. Even though the fight scenes were tremendous, the film comes to a crashing halt once the pilots land. Jo’s romantic love interest was only mildly amusing and pointless. Cuba Gooding Jr. was miscast in his role. He is a great actor but wasn’t given much to do but grunt and smoke his pipe. Most of the dialogue is so laughably bad that you will be happy when the action starts again.
Bottom Line: If you like aerial stunts and lots of explosions then this one is for you. If you care more about plot and decent dialogue then you will struggle to like this one.
Rating: PG-13 Run time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
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