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Red Tails (2012)
Friday, May 25, 2012
Some sequences of war violence
Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bran Cranston, Tristan Wilds, Lee Tergesen, Andre Royo, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Leslie Odom Jr.
John Ridley, Aaron McGruder, George Lucas
A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.
Red Tails (2012) | Review
Never Gets Off The Ground
Now to be fair, George Lucas didn't really direct this one, or write this one, but his finger prints are all over it... and not always in a good way. As long as the planes are in the air, things are okay. The flight sequences are exciting, if perhaps a little too slick looking. Then, there are a few moments that deal with the other battle the Tuskegee Airmen faced: discrimination. These moments are interesting as we see how these brave men overcame those obstacles, but unfortunately they're too short and far between. All the other attempts at bringing out character succumb to some pretty bad writing and stilted dialogue, with some truly cheesy and overly melodramatic music to "enhance" the mood. These moments make the things feel more like a made-for-TV movie with really good special effects.
The other major problem is the final climatic battle feels like it gets cut short. The film builds to this moment, but it never delivers on any resolution. Do the bombers make it to their target? Do they succeed with their mission? Does the rest of the Red Tails squadron perform their duty and make it back successfully? All of this is swept aside for a more character-focused moment that tries to resonate emotionally but ultimately feels fairly hollow.
And this isn't isolated just to this climatic moment. Several other stories feel shortchanged as well. One character introduced early on is quickly lost and forgotten. There's a whole escape from prison sequence that feels like it's part of another movie, and it's all so rushed and has so little bearing on the rest of the film that I was left wondering why it was even included in the first place. Plus, George Lucas just has to face the fact that he can't tell a romantic story. He had an epic fail with attempting to do that in Star Wars Episode II, and while things fare a bit better here, it's still awkward and not as romantic as the movie thinks it is. And so, these small problems continue to mount throughout the movie and at the end I couldn't help but feel disappointed.
There's a good story here, and some fascinating history and human drama to explore. Unfortunately, Red Tails far too often ends up chasing its own tail with pointless stories that don't really lead anywhere filled with characters that feel more like caricatures rather than representations of the actual men who heroically fought for their country and their fellow man.
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