Red Tails… movie review

Starring Hollywood veterans Terrence Howard as Col. A.J. Bullard and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Major Emanuel Stance, alongside rising stars Nate Parker as Martin “Easy” Julian and David Oyelowo as Joe “Lightning” Little, the movie shows in its opening image the air squadron flying what is supposed to be a relatively low-key patrol over a serene Italian countryside. Led by their unflappable flight leader, Easy, they try to maintain a sense of dignity despite being relegated to what is considered mop-up duty in a war where white servicemen were assigned the most honorable missions and were recognized as the only real heroes.
During the errand run, the Red Tails (the name referred to the color of the tails on their planes) come across a moving train that appears to be carrying civilian cargo, only to realize that it’s a heavily armed German convoy equipped with troops and artillery. Easy cautions the team to approach with prudence. But Lightning, the talented yet rebellious, hot-tempered pilot of the bunch, decides to engage the enemy in spite of Easy’s orders and wages a vaunted assault on the German train, a battle that puts the Tails at risk and leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.
For its entertainment value, the movie appeals to a wide range of moviegoers. From history lovers to war-film fanatics, Red Tails will likely satisfy the appetite of anyone who enjoys a fast-moving adventure. More meaningfully, Red Tails is a film that reflects a critical juncture in African-American history.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is one of sheer bravery and humanity, yet it’s a narrative that almost never has been told because of Hollywood’s unwillingness to promote big-budget black films with a predominantly black cast. Lucas began developing the movie in 1988 and tried to produce it in 1992. But it wasn’t until nearly two decades later, after almost all of the established production companies passed on the project, that he decided to fund it himself and turn the film into a reality.
Opening nationwide on Jan. 20, Lucas’ cinematic version of the Tuskegee Airmen’s real-life experiences is but a CliffsNotes version of the real thing. But hopefully, the film will pry open the channels of discourse that will empower more African Americans’ stories to be told in ways that aren’t diminishing or compromising.
As with the journeys of all other black soldiers before them in all of the wars in which America has been a part, the harrowing story of the Red Tails is about African Americans overcoming injustice by upholding democracy, despite their realities as second-class citizens in America.
They were heroes not because they were finally recognized with Medals of Honor decades after they sacrificed their lives for America but because they prevailed over an enemy both in the sky and on land at home. But through it all, as Parker’s character aptly shouts before the film’s final battle: “From the last plane, to the last bullet, to the last man, we fight.”
And they won every time.
Red Tails  receives a PARL
Rating:
P…Horrible
PA…Tolerable
PAR…Good
PARL…Kinda Great
PARLÉ… Classic
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In its opening sequence, the air squadron is flying in what is supposed to be a relatively low-key patrol over a serene Italian countryside. Led by their unflappable flight leader, “Easy” (Nate Parker), they try to maintain a sense of dignity despite being relegated to what is considered mop-up duty in a war where white servicemen were assigned the most honorable missions and were recognized as the only real heroes.  During the errand run, the Red Tails (the name referred to the color of the tails on their planes) come across a moving train that appears to be carrying civilian cargo, only to realize that it’s a heavily armed German convoy equipped with troops and artillery. Easy cautions the team to approach with prudence. But “Lightning” (David Oyelowo), the talented yet rebellious, hot-tempered pilot of the bunch, decides to engage the enemy in spite of Easy’s orders and wages a vaunted assault on the German train, a battle that puts the Tails at risk and leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

Starring Hollywood veterans Terrence Howard as Col. A.J. Bullard and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Major Emanuel Stance, alongside rising stars Nate Parker as Martin “Easy” Julian and David Oyelowo as Joe “Lightning” Little.  For its entertainment value, the movie appeals to a wide range of moviegoers. From history lovers to war-film fanatics, Red Tails will likely satisfy the appetite of anyone who enjoys a fast-moving adventure. More meaningfully, Red Tails is a film that reflects a critical juncture in African-American history.

The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is one of sheer bravery and humanity, yet it’s a narrative that almost never has been told because of Hollywood’s unwillingness to promote big-budget Black films with a predominantly Black cast. George Lucas began developing the movie in 1988 and tried to produce it in 1992. But it wasn’t until nearly two decades later, after almost all of the established production companies passed on the project, that he decided to fund it himself and turn the film into a reality.

Opening nationwide on Jan. 20, Lucas’ cinematic version of the Tuskegee Airmen’s real-life experiences is but a CliffsNotes version of the real thing. But hopefully, the film will pry open the channels of discourse that will empower more African American stories to be told in ways that aren’t diminishing or compromising.  

As with the journeys of all other Black soldiers before them in all of the wars in which America has been a part, the harrowing story of the Red Tails is about African Americans overcoming injustice by upholding democracy, despite their realities as second-class citizens in America.

They were heroes not because they were finally recognized with Medals of Honor decades after they sacrificed their lives for America but because they prevailed over an enemy both in the sky and on land at home. But through it all, as Parker’s character aptly shouts before the film’s final battle: “From the last plane, to the last bullet, to the last man, we fight.”

And they won every time.

 

Red Tails receives a PARL

 

Rating:

P…Horrible

PA…Tolerable

PAR…Good

PARL…Kinda Great

PARLÉ… Classic     

 

 

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1775 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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