I've had multiple family members in various branches of the U.S. Military, so I've always had respect for the military life and the people who live it. Knowing a lot of my history as an African-American, I know that the black soldiers from way back when had a very difficult time during their duration in the service. Facing what they faced, they had to break barriers just to get an opportunity to show what they could do. One of the first groups to break down those walls were known as The Tuskegee Airmen. These historical soldiers and their story inspired the film Red Tails.
The Tuskegee Airmen weren't being given much to do during their time in World War II. The untested, but eager group flew around doing missions with very little danger and virtually no fighting. After seeing no action, the young men of the Tuskegee training program finally get their chance to do exactly what they signed up for once the government ran out of options and reluctantly gave them their opportunity to fight. After all of the waiting and hoping, The Tuskegee Airmen finally have their chance to show the world what they're made of.
Red Tails is a film that features a lot of style and has a very artsy look to it. I didn't think that it would go over well, but I was wrong. The fantastic actors shined together with both the story and the look to give the film its own identity.
These dudes brought style, confidence and attitude to the screen. With the many different personalities they had in Red Tails, the creators found the time to get just about all of them a chance to put their own stamp on the movie. It was fun watching them bring their roles to life and add depth to the film while still sharing the screen with one another.
Like many other people, these soldiers had to deal with racism and discrimination. Red Tails does a good job of showing not only some of what they had to face, but also how they reacted and the results of those reactions. Some of those people who viewed them as less than human showed that they would never change their views, while others eventually came to accept them as equals. It was an interesting dynamic that shows the many faces of racism and how knowledge and respect may or may not change things.
Although it showed some of the racism and discrimination that these men faced, it wasn't the only thing they focused on. Along with the battles and camaraderie amongst the soldiers, a good portion of Red Tails was about the friendship between Martin "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker) and Joe "Lightning" Little (David Oyelowo). One of them is a flamboyant ladies man who has trouble listening to authority and the other is the captain of the group who has his own personal demons that he has to fight against. These two friends had their own things going on, but also clashed a couple of times with each other. Their relationship is one of the film's major storylines, but it never comes close to getting in the way of the main plot.
I expected Red Tails to be lighter and more kid friendly than the HBO version (which starred Cuba Gooding Jr. in a different role) that I saw years ago and I was right to an extent. While it was more vibrant and added a good amount of comedy, it was responsible and much more mature than I thought it would be. I was certainly relieved that they didn't turn it into a cartoon like experience.
Regardless of how I felt going into the film, I enjoyed it. I didn't expect a movie like this to come out in the first place and seeing that it was apparently in production since 1988 tells me that I might not have been the only one. Based on what I've read, some people in Hollywood didn't think a movie like this with a nearly all black cast would sell and that's why it took so long to make. They may be right, but I'm glad it was a given chance anyway. George Lucas was the driving force in getting this made and credit has to be given to him for pushing so long and doing all he could to get it in theaters.
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Film Length: 120 minutes
Release Date: January 20, 2012
Distributor: 20th Century Fox