Red Tails, Film Review
George Lucas had been tiring to get this film made for over 25 years. In the end Lucas covered the cost of production with his own money, and provided a further $35 million for distribution. In an interview on The Daily Show on January 9, 2012, Lucas revealed that the long delay in the production of the film was because major film studios balked at financing and marketing a film with an “all-black” cast and “no major white roles.” He went on to explain that studios receive “60% of their profit” from overseas, and the studios feel there is no market there for films with all-black casts.
The only known names in Red Tails are Cuba Gooding Jr. (he was also in the 1995 HBO TV movie, The Tuskegee Airmen) and Terrence Howard as the commanding officers of the Tuskegee airmen and their ground crews.
The experiences of these black American pilots in World War II gets a whitewash in red Tails. The story of these pilots and their ground crew who distinguished themselves in combat, in the faces of institutional racism is a great one. This film will bring much deserved attention to this small group of people.
However every character here is so squeaky-clean, and prejudice as depicted is a little toothless and easily overcome. Which means the film looses how hard these men fought just to get in the air and stay there. This is a great shame as the film could have shown what life was really like for them. The film also tried to be political correct, in regards to smoking. With the exception of Cuba Gooding Jr. smoking a pipe, there are no other characters that do this in a time when every G.I was issued with a pack of cigarettes in their ration pack.
The film has four story lines that flow though it. Unfortunately only one of them really shines in this film. The story line set in Washington could have been some much better in showing the sort of racism these men where up agents. However ever obstacle Their commanding officer come across to get them onto the front lines is easily over come and before long they have new P-51 Mustangs assigned to them instead of carry on using the old hand me down P-40’s.
The next story line is what the main character of the film gets up to when is not in the air. This seems more of filler than anything else. In one scene where he walking into an officer club, he get kicked out for being black. Instead of walking away he starts a fight. Normal this would have lead to a Court Martial, however he seem to survive and is back to flying in no time. They could have dealt better with the racism here.
I say this because; after seeing these pilots only protects the bomber once they are then invited into the club. There are no objects, where you would have expected it.
The next story line is off one of the pilots being shot down and being sent to Stalag 18. Within moments of arriving he is part of an escape plan. The next time we see him he is escaping. Again this came across as more filler. If this story is true and not added just for more drama, it would have been better as it own film.
Finally we have the last story line and this best of film. It the air combat these pilot did, thought it is very compressed which is a great shame. But it stunning and you can see that all the studying Lucas off old World War II dog fights for Star Wars Episode IV really pays off here. This is where the film is at it most interesting, it is stunning to watch and full of action which is easy to follow unlike current action films with the shaky cam.
But that not to say that the film is all bad. It just comes across as bit lacklustre, which can’t be placed at Lucas door as he only produce it and did some re-shoots. The blame has to go to the writes for making everything so clean and easy, when it could have been gritty and dark when dealing with the racism elements. Of course the director needs to take blame to, again for making a clean and “happy” film, when in reality this was not the case and so misses out on realism.
Due to this lacklustre form the non-flight scenes I have to give this film 2.5 out of 5.
It just a shame that with the martial that at hand, Red Tails could have been so much better. But if Red Tails does anything it brings attention to a group of pilot that are little known.
I hope someone takes up this subject again and makes a film that really shows it how it was, instead of given it a bit of a whitewash as historical films tends to do these days.
Col. A.J. Bullard: At all costs, you protect the heavies.