By Joe Suszczynski
The Tuskegee Airmen are probably the most famous group of people that overcame racism and prejudice in the Second World War. Being black prohibited them to fight for their country in a big way. They were forced into menial tasks while the white pilots were given the big missions. However, through persistence they were eventually given the opportunity to fight. They were given new planes, to which the tails were painted red. They were known as the “Red Tails.”
In 1995 an HBO movie, The Tuskegee Airmen, was made in honor of these brave men. It was met with positive reviews. About 16 years later, another movie was made called Red Tails. This movie, though inspiring, feels mediocre, leaving the feeling that it could have been much more.
The plot is a simple one: Tuskegee pilots are being discriminated against, so their commanding officer tries to make things right. He gets his wish; the airmen prove their worth and they are regarded as heroes. The problem is that they add two sub-plots, one being completely unnecessary and the other being under-developed.
The first sub-plot involved a romance between David Oyelowo’s character and a local Italian woman played by Daniela Ruah. I have nothing against romance plots, but this was an unnecessary addition. This added nothing to the struggles of the airmen.
The movie was about men overcoming adversity in the military, not mixing it up with the locals. If anything, the relationship between Oyelowo’s and Nate Parker’s character should have been explored more considering they were at odds with each other at times.
The other sub-plot involved Tristan Wilds’ character being shot down and captured by Germans. He was sent to a POW camp where he became part of an escape plan lead by some soldiers looking to escape the camp. There were only two scenes in this movie that depicted this and personally I felt it should have been explored more.
I liked the action scenes. They were rather well done. You get the feeling of being up in the midst of the fighting with the pilots themselves. Given it was produced by George Lucas, the dogfights portrayed have a Star Wars quality to them. The movie thrilled at the right moments and the visuals were well done and environments portrayed beautifully.
The acting did not impress. They played their parts competently enough to where they’re believable, but in the case of character development it was lacking.
Only three actors’ characters, Parker, Oyelowo and Wilds, were examined deeper than at face value in the movie and ironically the two main actors, Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., were not given any real development. Howard’s character focused mainly on getting equal representation and Gooding just made some hollow impassioned speeches and went over briefings.
The dialogue borders on plain. Grante,d during a dogfight it’s supposed to be short and sweet, that’s understandable. However, outside the dogfight scenario it’s pretty weak and at times cliché.
Red Tails attempted at inspiring the masses, but fell flat doing it. The action sequences and barely competent acting do not make up for the other flaws: the scarce character development, and unnecessary and underdeveloped sub-plots.