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Red Tails – You can smell the patriotism

Red Tails - Theater Review
Release Date: 01/20/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

'Red Tails' is an historical movie about an important subject that features great acting and cheesy villians alike.

According to the latest rumors, George Lucas, the producer of Red Tails, plans to quit mainstream movie-making but still try for a sequel and prequel based on this film. Could work.

Red Tails tells the story of the famed and acclaimed Tuskegee Airmen of the US Army Air Corps, based on experiments to train African-American soldiers as pilots before World War II. Of course, given the pervasiveness of institutional racism of the day, especially in high levels of the military, the airmen were never expected to succeed. But succeed they did.

The movie takes place after the unit has been deployed to a remote airfield in Italy, where they are only assigned demeaning and low-risk missions. Naturally, this ragtag group of unique yet competent men wants glory and recognition — and helping their cause is Col. Bullard, played by Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow), fighting against racist military men in DC such as Maj. William Mortamus (Bryan Cranston). While on the field, Maj. Emmanuelle Stance, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry MaguireNorbit), runs the show with his pipe he never smokes and flight leader, Captain Marty Julian (Nate Parker).

Over the course of the movie, someone courts a local lady in a plotline that takes up entirely too much time, the mechanic (Andre Royo) complains about hothead Lightning (David Oyelowo) mussing up the planes, pilots are captured by the Nazis, sacrifices are made, and heroes are found. And a ridiculously cartoonish recurring Nazi airman keeps showing up to shout German only the audience can hear. It’s too bad that this movie suffers from silliness and over-the-top jingoistic feel-goodedness — it lessens the impact of the mostly excellent acting (from the airmen, although Bryan Cranston is great in about 2 minutes of screentime as an unrepentant racist major). And some surprises aren’t pleasant: “Oh, he’s dead? Oh, he ISN’T dead?” — that sort of thing minimizes the actual sacrifices of the real airmen.

But the movie has fun visuals and exciting aerial fight scenes with snappy dialogue and mostly interesting characters. This movie could have been great. Perhaps Lucas’ planned prequel or sequel will be.



Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

One Response to “Red Tails – You can smell the patriotism”

January 20, 2012 at 9:48 AM

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. Check out mine when you get the chance.

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