Movie Review: Red Tails (2012)

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Drama

red tails

The 332nd fighter group of all black airmen was given trial runs on strafing missions in Italy in 1944, near the end of WW II.  The squadron was led by Marty ”Easy” Julien. (Nate Parker)  The pilots under Julien’s command were  Joe “Lightening” Little (David Oyelowo) Ray “Junior” Gannon (Tristan Wilds)  Andrew Smokey Salem (Ne-Yo)  and Deke Watkins. (Marcus T. Paulk)  The commander of the fighter group AJ Bullard (Terrence Howard) gets them a real mission and new planes P-51 Mustangs, which they painted with Red Tails.  The squadron not only shoots down a lot of planes, but Lightening follows a damaged German plane back to the German airbase, where he and the rest of the Red Tails almost completely destroy the entire airbase.  Junior gets hurt during the mission, and it is almost blinded, but it’s clearly Lightening that is the hotshot of the squadron, he breaks off one mission to meet an Italian girl named Sofia. (Daniella Ruah) Easy tells Lightening to stop being such a showboat and Lightening tells Easy to stop drinking.

The fighter group’s next mission is to escort bombers safely to and from their bombing missions.  On one such mission the nearly blind Junior gets shot down and taken prisoner at a German POW camp.  Easy went around doctor’s orders to get Junior back in the fighting.  Deke also gets shot down during this mission and is sent home with burns over 60% of his body.  The POW’s are planning a prison break and want Junior to come along.  Lightening is getting more and more serious about Sofia, and he finally proposes to her, does she accept?

The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is a vitally important story to tell in American history, it certainly deserves a more serious rendering then this meaningless fluff.  To begin with, it starts with the disclaimer “Inspired by true events” When you see this sentence, viewers, run for the exits.  The names of the characters are not real, meaning they can take liberties with these characters.  Some of the storylines are so desperate to be melodramatic, that the melodrama turns comedic and oh so predictable.  The silliest and most predictable of these of these storylines is the Lightening Sofia love story, is pure drivel, to believe that people devoted to Mussolini would be so open to having a black man as a possible lover.  The second predictable, ludicrous storyline is the blind POW planning an escape from the POW camp. Any viewer should be able to figure out what happens with Junior.  by the way, the idea of a blind POW has been done already, in The Great Escape, nothing original here.

The acting is better by the not-so  famous actors than the big stars.  Cuba Gooding Jr. barely makes an appearance in this movie.  Good for him, he did not do any further damage to his career.  Terrence Howard seems to have no interest in this movie.  His inspiring speeches are laughable, Howard’s delivery of his lines are lackluster, to say the least.  Only one of his speeches even approaches inspiration.  At least Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, and Tristan Wilds are trying to make their characters entertaining.

Director Anthony Hemmingway seems more interested in filming the dogfights in this movie and the dogfights in this movie are expertly shot, but the rest of the story drags, the characters are caricatures, who are underdeveloped, and  the pacing is slow.

Red Tails.  Turn tail and run, before renting this one.


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