Film Review – Red Tails

“All wings check in.”
“Red 3 standing by.”
“Red 6 standing by.”
“Red 5 standing by”
“Red Buttons standing by.”
“Redd Foxx standing by.”
“Big Red standing by.”
– Star Wars: A New Hope







Image taken from here

Red Tails, starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Apparently, George Lucas (who served as Executive Producer on this film) started dreaming this up in 1988, with a desire to release in 1992.  20 years later, here we are.

Thing is, 20 years later, it still views as a crappy 80’s film.  I don’t really want to get too deep into the plot.  Actually, I can’t get too deep into the plot.  What you see is what you get.  African American (back then, they called themselves Negros – makes me interested into the evolution of that word, since now I believe it’s considered to be derogatory) men were deemed too stupid and slow in their reactions to be a functional part of the army, so while there were African American pilots, all they did was blow up trains, jeeps, etc.  There’s the religious pilot, the easy-go-lucky pilot, the funny pilot, the straight-arrow pilot and the jack-off pilot, and every other character stereotype you can imagine.  The pilots get a chance to prove themselves; they prove themselves and they soon find they are escorting bomber planes to their destination and fighting off the Germans.  Then the climax scene and then end.

From the get-go we are expected to like the jack-off pilot, but I found that impossible.  Whenever he didn’t listen to instruction, I found myself rolling my eyes and wishing we could watch something else.  Right after he went against orders and blew up a warship, he yelled at his CO for being incompetent.  Thing is, nothing in the scenes we see his CO in reveals such incompetence.  The only reason I can see they put that plot point in there was for us to really like the jack-off.  And since me liking the jack-off didn’t happen, that whole interaction was useless.  Jack-off pilot is the reason people hate pilots.  “What’s the difference between God and pilots? God doesn’t think he’s a pilot.” I thought of that every time jack-off pilot opened his mouth.  Or was just on camera.

Remember that email that circulated back in 1995 that said something akin to: “When white people get mad, they turn red, when they get sick or jealous, they turn green and they have the nerve to call us ‘coloured'”?  They actually put that in the movie like that character was the first person to say that. You know what’s worse?  People in the audience chortled – they actually chortled like it was the first time they had ever heard that.  Thanks guys, nice PSA.

None of the dialogue was inspired.  Not one single word.  The actors played to the camera when they were in their cockpit, grinning like fools (with perfectly straight, white teeth, which was somewhat distracting).  The writing was juvenile, but not one actor attempted to move above it.  They came, they said their lines, and they went home.   I’d be interested to see if any of these characters were real, or they were composites, or completely made up.  Hard to believe there were people actually like that.


Of course, at the end we have a image of an American flag waving in the background, while America the Beautiful is being played.

There are so many other things I can say about this film, but then I’d have explained the entire film.  Not that you would find it difficult to figure out the plot as it is.  Thing is, the story in and of itself is truly interesting, it’s just the execution of it that sucks hairy balls.

I had two giggles I’d like to share.

  1. The reference(s) to Black Jesus.  Essentially the typical Catholic-type picture of Jesus, with curly hair, wimpy face and a halo, except he was coloured in black.
  2. In the planes, when they would sound off.  “Red 4, this is Red 1.”  Star Wars anyone?

Course, I knew it would be a bad film when they previewed The Three Stooges before showing the movie.


1 Comment

  1. The dogfights are fun but everything else is filled with corniness, lame acting, predictable story arc, and moments where the film feels like a video-game rather than based on a true story. A great story to be told, but told in a very poor way. Good review right here though. Give mine a look when you get the chance.

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