Red Tails

This movie documents an important step toward equality in the U.S. military. It is based on the exploits of an Army Air Corps wing staffed by African American men from the Tuskegee training program. We see what a challenge it was for them to find acceptance by fellow military officers, the frustration they encountered because they were issued equipment discarded by other groups and the pride they developed as a much- decorated and highly honored American squadron that contributed to the Allied victory in WWII.

Based on a story by John Ridley (lots of TV) and produced by George Lucas ("Star Wars"), this well-meaning film has plenty of action and humor, but the weak dialogue by Aaron McGruder ("The Boondocks") left me shaking my head. Anachronisms abounded: "Man up," "Get your mojo back," and "Stay with me" (to a wounded airman), sounded more like 2012, not the 1940s.

This cast did a fine job despite the script's many shortcomings:
  • Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") does a quick cameo as a racist officer.
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. ("The Hit List") smokes a pipe here to give his character gravitas. He is a fair-minded officer who wants his men to succeed and understands the importance of morale.
  • Terrence Howard ("The Brave One") is the officer who does battle for his men at headquarters. He negotiates for new fighter planes and meaningful assignments.
  • David Oyelowo ("The Help") brings dash and sex appeal to his character; he's the daredevil who wants to fly that extra sortie and who can spot a beautiful woman from the air. This British- born actor is sensational!
  • Daniela Ruah ("NCIS: Los Angeles") is the lovely Italian woman our eagle-eyed lover boy spots.
Full disclosure: I'm a former pilot, so I saw illogical scenes that bothered me, but those same scenes might very well be thrilling to a less picky viewer. This is a war movie, so expect male bonding, blood, plenty of dogfights and LOTS of blowie uppie stuff.

Executive producer George Lucas (who personally funded this movie) said in an interview that this project is to celebrate heroes largely forgotten by America, and to offer an opportunity to a galaxy of black actors too often ignored. Kudos!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Brief ad before the trailer:
* * * * * * * * * * * *