I didn’t know what to expect from Red Tails. Maybe it would be good, but would it be true?

The movie has come under heavy fire for its Hollywood shine, and it took George Lucas more than 20 years to bring the film to the big screen. Anthony Hemingway directs, and the cast is anchored by Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Oscar nominee Terrence Howard.

Red Tails is inspired by the courage of the first African-American aerial combat unit that served during World War II.  Training the Tuskegee Airmen began as the “Tuskegee Experiment” and ultimately led to desegregation in the U.S. military in 1948 — 15 years before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.

Some have complained about how the film tells such an important story and its well-choreographed aerial fight scenes. Others have objected to an interracial subplot. I understand that some Hollywood magic has to happen and don’t expect to see the truth about historical subjects at the movies. That’s why we have books.

The fight scenes were a little too intense for me, but they weren’t designed for the occasional war movie watcher. As for the love story, it was tender and a sweet distraction from the war. At first, I had a hard time accepting Cuba Gooding Jr. as the head honcho in the field, but I definitely believed Terrance Howard as the colonel fighting with military brass for his men. The other characters developed well, on and off the ground.

The movie clocks in at two hours, and that was a bit long for me. I enjoyed it and will recommend it to my father, who is retired from the military, and anyone else who wants to see a movie inspired by real events. If the applause at the end is any guide, the audience also was delighted with the movie. I, for one, was surprised to see a nearly filled theater for a late morning showing. Perhaps moviegoers can show executives that an all-male black cast can draw legions.


4 thoughts to “Red Tails

  • Aisha G of Hartlyn Kids

    Thanks for this review. Did you take the kids along? Curious about that…

    • Honeysmoke

      No, it’s too intense for children. There’s a lot of death and destruction. I think teens would probably enjoy it.

  • Blanc2

    I plan to see it, even though the reviews pretty consistently mention that the film whitewashes the racism that affected everything about these brave airmen. The irony — fighting racist Nazis on behalf of a racist nation within a racists military — could have provided a poignant background for the actual plot. Instead, we have scenes of black airmen quickly accepted into the white club and yucking it up together, something that rarely happens even today.

    That said, it’s a worthy project to support for many reasons. I do understand the kinds of compromises that often must be made to get a picture distributed.

  • Gini

    Went and saw it w/my husband who is former military and he didn’t like it as much as I did as mentioned above he thought it whitewashed things down and wasn’t as militarily accurate as he’d like (I rarely find a military film he finds accurate enough to his tast :-)). In the end, he (who is African-American and I am Caucasian) was glad it was made. To me, it had some hokey, Hollywood moments but was kind of a good old fashioned movie. He and I talked about the interracial subplot and we found that actually pretty accurate as you read about a number of African-Americans who stayed in certain parts of Europe, particularly, Italy and France after the war because they were treated better there than the U.S. My husband who was in the military in the 70’s much of it in Germany said the same was true then for AA soldiers a number of them by that time felt better treated in Germany, were bi-lingual w/English and German and faced fewer problems with an interracial relationship and got more respect there than they would have at home. So…that romance was kind of on the mark from our perspective. Agree, definitely too graphic for kids under maybe 10 or 12. Glad to hear it was #2 at the box office!

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