Starring: David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr, Nate Parker, Terrence Howard
Director: Anthony Hemingway
World War 2 has been a goldmine for Hollywood over the years. Be the battles be at land, sea or air, we’ve seen Allies vs Axis many a time. So is there any new stories left to tell?
Red Tails brings us the story of the Tuskegee flight training program, where despite heavy criticisms and doubts, African American pilots were trained in World War 2.
Usually rooted to the ground, we follow them finally receiving their call to arms to defend American bombing runs. Not only do they have to overcome the attentions of the Luftwaffe, but crippling racism from the American forces themselves.
In a world where nearly every side of World War 2 has been covered extensively, this amazing nugget of history was crying out for some time in the limelight. A dog fighting movie with a real political twist would have just what the doctor ordered.
Instead, Red Tails is a massive missed opportunity as it wanders into dull clichés and stereotypes so old, they need assistance up the metaphorical stairs with an alarming degree. We have tedious flight time ‘banter’, a sneering omni-present German ace, a pipe smoking major and the regulation bashing hotshot. Shout out when you see something not done before.
This all could have been forgiven if it was as exciting and energetic as those cliché setters, but Red Tails fails there too.
Red Tails slows to an absolute crawl when on the ground, intent to get heavily involved in a dull as ditchwater romance and a tiny bit or boring brotherly bonding. This isn’t help by a tedious script with very little in the way of good humour or animation of any kind. Partner this with some far from stellar acting work (especially from the hilariously awful bomber pilots) and you don’t have a great base for a film.
Red Tails only drags itself to the heady heights of mediocrity when it takes off into the air. When the film finally gets around to some air combat, the movie finally starts to engage.
Despite the annoying dialogue and them lacking in much sense of danger, the dogfights are easily the best part of the film. Colourful and energetic, they stand in polar opposite to everything else Red Tails has to offer.
A truly interesting story, drearily handled. It’s a real shame that such a politically charged wartime event should be given such dull treatment.
Red Tails is out now
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith