Stirring story ruined by sub-standard script
A1925 US Army War College study concluded that: "Blacks are mentally inferior, by nature subservient, and cowards in the face of danger. They are therefore unfit for combat."
These words are quoted in the opening caption of Red Tails. The little-known story of how the African-American Tuskegee Airman of the US Army Air Force challenged and overcame such ingrained racism with their bravery during the Second World War is the perfect subject for a historical drama. But producer George Lucas had to fund the whole thing out of his own vast Star Wars booty after studios reportedly balked at backing such an expensive project with no white stars.
While it would be gratifying to report that the result is a stirring masterpiece, triumphantly sticking two fingers up at conservative mainstream Hollywood, it isn't.
As you might expect from the man behind Lucasfilm, the aerial dogfights are suitably thrilling, but when the fictionalised pilots return to terra firma, the whole thing crashes and burns in an inferno of wooden characters, dodgy plotting and cliched dialogue.
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Once the thinly characterised pilots finally get the opportunity to provide aerial support for US bombers, it isn't long before their formerly racist white counterparts are saying things like: "I guess there's a lot more to you coloureds than we thought."
One can't help thinking that the real Tuskegee Airmen deserve better than to have their story squandered in this way.