Bottom Line: Red Tails veers itself into the red zone.
Directed by: Anthony Hemingway
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Daniela Ruah, David Oyelowo, Elijah Kelley, Gerald McRaney, Kevin Phillips, Nate Parker, Ne-Yo, Terrence Howard, Tristan Wilds
For quite a long time, I have truculently held on to a strong belief about how films display war. A certain part of me finds it painful when filmmakers make war films to glorify the subject matter, rather than to present the grief felt by those involved. Just as many of us likely do, I know a handful of individuals who have fought for us in war, and I am sure they would agree that war movies should by no means be mere action movies and nothing more. I see absolutely no justification for it.
It appears as if screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder–as well as most of the visual credits–carry little respect toward those who risk their lives in war on a daily basis. Having seen emotionally harrowing films that convey the subject matter, films that scream “war is hell” without any characters needing to say it, I know I would never, ever, ever want to fight in a war. If this was the only war film I had ever seen, I would be quite excited to enlist. The film makes war look like a flamboyant, addicting video game: fun to engage in, exhilarating, fast-paced, and making one eager to visit again.
Ironically, RED TAILS possesses not one of those qualities. It’s downright boring and slow, and I’d be surprised if I ever decided to give it another shot. The film lacks a plot. It has a premise, but no particular plot. Set in Italy during World War II, this is a ramshackle chronicle centered on four colored–excuse me, I meant Negro, because apparently that’s what they prefer–pilots who are finally given a chance to prove themselves worthy of the Air Force, despite heavy discrimination abundant below them. It’s quite disappointing how such an interesting premise collapsed into a repetitive production. Let’s start out with…action! Negotiation. Action! Negotiation. Action! You get the picture.
RED TAILS is a potentially unsatisfying film. It has its moments, but it’s mostly difficult to watch. I’ll close this review by asking you, dear readers, to listen to the song “War” by Edwin Starr. Every time Mr. Starr drops the word “war”, mentally substitute in “Red Tails”. You may hear a bit of exaggeration, but otherwise, the description works perfectly.