Red Tails

Directed By: Anthony Hemingway

Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Daniela Rush, Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Ryan Early, Method Man, Elijah Kelley, and Ne-Yo

Black History Month will be upon us in a couple of weeks, but Hollywood has decided to get the jump on everyone else this weekend by putting out a film on the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in the US armed forces.  In the face of racism, prejudice, and discrimination, they were trailblazers that charted a path for future generations to follow.  The black community has overcome many of the challenges they faced at that time, but there are still some unchartered territories.  A great example is that no black movie has ever won a Worst Picture award at the Razzies.  Well, Cuba Gooding, Jr. Terrence Howard, and their fellow co-stars throw themselves into the mix for next year's award with their latest film Red Tails.  Congratulations gentlemen on absolutely sucking.

Colonel A.J. Bullard (Howard) and Major Emanuelle Stance (Gooding, Jr.) lead the 332nd Fighter Group of the US Army Air Corps.  This is the only group in the armed forces that consists of negro pilots.  They are currently serving in Italy in the midst of World War II.  In one of the bloodiest wars known to man, they're not getting any action.  They're taking missions hundreds and thousands of miles away from the front lines of the war. 

Racism is alive and well at this time.  The key players in the armed forces opt not to utilize the skills of this group of black pilots because they believe they're somehow inferior to any white pilot in the service.  Well, Colonel Bullard does not take this sitting down.  He fights to get his men a worthwhile assignment.  When he finally does get them one though, the airmen need to prove themselves because they won't get a second chance.  Neither will any other black pilots for that matter.

The history of the Tuskegee Airmen is such a rich story that will make a great movie some day.  With the release of Red Tails this weekend, I can unfortunately say that today is not that day.  There is so much wrong with this film that I honestly don't know where to start.  I need a little liquid inspiration.

The two worst things about Red Tails are the acting and the writing.  They don't have any cast members with some acting chops.  The film needs an acting heavyweight to add some gravitas to it.  Terrence Howard mails in his performance from some other continent, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. can't carry the movie at all.  It's been a long time since the days of Jerry Maguire and Men of Honor.  The only films he can carry these days are Daddy Day Camp and Norbit.  That's not exactly powerful dramatic material.  The supporting cast can't do much to help them out either.  With the likes of Method Man and Ne-Yo, you're not exactly getting great acting.

The writing is equally as bad as the acting.  Screenwriter John Ridley delivers one of the most hackneyed scripts I've seen in a while, and my standard is already pretty low because it's January.  There are so many clich├ęs and so many predictable lines in Red Tails.  It feels more like a poorly written mainstream Hollywood flick than a serious historical drama.  I honestly thought that the script was written by George Lucas whose more recent writing credits include Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull.  Yes, the screenplay is just that awful.

Red Tails is a crappy movie based on good intentions.  It's wonderful that George Lucas wants to bring the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to the big screen.  Do it the right way though.  Don't give us bad acting, bad writing, and cheap sets.  Give us greatness.  Lucas, director Anthony Hemingway, and the cast should have done a far better job in bringing the rich history of the Airmen to the big screen, and I'll drink to that.  Get ready for a few rounds of Redheaded Sluts because Red Tails gets a wasted rating.  Drink up for this one!  I know I should have.