Rated PG-13 for violence and profanity.
Running time: 125 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Directed By: Anthony Hemingway
Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Method Man, Lee Tergesen, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley
Film Review by Kam Williams
Very Good (3 stars)
The Tuskegee Airmen is the nickname given the 332nd Fighter Group, the first squadron of African-American aviators ever trained by the U.S. Air Force. Formed in 1940, the historic unit had to be stationed at a base on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama, since the Armed Forces were still racially segregated at the time of its creation.
The picture was produced by Lucasfilm where it has been a pet project of the
studio’s legendary founder, George Lucas, for the past quarter-century. And
it features an ensemble cast topped by Academy Award-winner
Cuba “Show me
the money!” Gooding (for Jerry Maguire) and Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard
(for Hustle & Flow).
Aside from raising the question of the arbitrary color line, the plot reads like a typical, cliché-ridden war flick revolving around a tight-knit, motley crew of colorful characters. Each is based on a simplistically-drawn archetype, like the ill-fated pilot you know isn’t long for this world the moment he’s shown sitting in his cockpit gazing fondly at a picture of his fiancée right before takeoff.
Another familiar figure is the cigar-chomping Major (Gooding), a paternalistic pontificator given to delivering inspirational speeches about God, mom and apple pie. He cares about each of the men under his command, including alcoholic “Easy” Julian (Parker); daredevil “Lightning” Little (David Oyelowo); class clown “Joker” George (Elijah Kelley); and “Junior” Gannon (Tristan Wilds), a youngster who yearns to be taken seriously by his teasing colleagues.
Meanwhile, back at the Pentagon, we find exasperated Colonel A.J. Bullard (Howard) tirelessly lobbying the military brass to put an end to racial discrimination in the ranks. In the end, the film proves more memorable for its eye-popping, action sequences than for its corny dialogue which ranges from preachy (“We’re on the side of God Almighty!”) to trite poster-speak (Let’s give those newspapers something to write about!).
Nonetheless, Red Tails amounts to a worthy, overdue tribute to a group of intrepid, World War II heroes who never let their second-class status diminish their patriotism even one iota.
Official Red Tails Trailer
Air Force Association Salutes the Tuskegee Airmen
Red Tails an AALBC.com
(Does the film deserve automatic support from the Black Community?)