Dir. Anthony Hemingway
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
"From the last plane, to the last bullet, to the last minute, to the last man, we fight! We fight! We fight!"
Get ready to take to the skies with this ‘inspired by true events’ Red Tails from the mind of George Lucas. It’s been a while coming (he mentioned this project back when I interviewed him in 2005) and is one that he’s even financed himself.
Red Tails is the, erm, tale, of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first squadron of all black pilots who had to fight more than just Nazis in the Second World War. These brave and talented airmen risked everything and put themselves in harms way but in order to even earn the right to fly they had to battle institutionalized racism from within the army – all the way up to the top brass.
But the Red Tails – so called because the tails of their planes were painted red to be distinctive – had some mad skills in the air, none more so than hotshot maverick pilot Joe ‘Lightening’ Little (David Oyelowo) whose bravery extended to doing crazy acts of heroism such as taking on a fully armed Nazi battleship with nothing but his machine gun toting fighter plane.
"bring the pain"
As you might expect from a Lucas project, the special effects are excellent and the aerial dogfights really light up the screen. The plot and dialogue are alas less spectacular and serve to remind us of clunky lines delivered in a galaxy far, far away…
The plot sees the Red Tails develop over the course of four decisive air campaigns – from their early babysitting duties through to going all the way to Berlin, where they must go up against the technologically superior German get fighters.
The cast go about the gung-ho proceedings with gusto , the squadron is overseen by Major Emanuelle Stance (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who delivers the pipe smoking gravitas. The pilots are led by Marty 'Easy' Julian (Nate Parker) whose weakness for whiskey might be their undoing. Also in the lead group are the aforementioned Joe 'Lightning' Little, loveable youngster ‘Junior’ or ‘Ray Gun’ as he’d like to be known(Tristan Wilds) and ‘Smokey’ / comic relief (rapper Ne-Yo).
Red Tails isn’t a classic of any kind but it is good fun and brings some quality aerial battling thrills that won’t soon be forgotten. It also serves as a stark reminder of just how recently rampart and hateful racism was openly endorsed by the armed forces.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
ööö - the battle is won in the hearts of men
3 – Worth a look for Top Gun fans.
Awesomeness öööö – aerial battles are cool...
Laughs öö – some funny moments
Horror öö – not too grim, some bloodshed
Babes öö – one babe (Daniela Ruah) for love interest plot point
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – bravery doesn't reflect skin colour