Aces grounded in George Lucas's pet project Red Tails by a leaden script
00:24 GMT, 8 June 2012
RED TAILS (12A)
Verdict: Competent aerial war flick
Red Tails is a gung-ho celebration of military heroism: an account, based on fact, of the Tuskagee Airmen — a unit of the U.S. air force that was entirely black.
A pet project of executive producer George Lucas for 13 years, it’s an inspirational story and its infectious sense of camaraderie may well be an effective recruitment film for the U.S. air force.
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Boys' own: Red Tails' gung-ho heroes are a bit one dimensional and under-developed characters
But in terms of quality it falls well short of Glory, Edward Zwick’s 1989 epic about the first black regiment to bear arms in the American Civil War.
The clunkingly obvious script seems to have been not so much written as assembled from a kit. Like too many films about aerial combat, the movie is exciting in the air and earthbound when it’s not.
Partly, this is down to the painfully underwritten love story between the most daredevil pilot (David Oyelowo) and a beautiful Italian signorina, who is given nothing to do but simper.
All the characters seem to have been fretsawed out of balsa wood.
Lack of depth: Cuba Gooding Jr as the kindly, pipe-smoking Major Emanuelle Stance
Terrence Howard does his best as the fiercely inspiring colonel, and Cuba Gooding Jr fiddles a lot with a pipe as the kindly, authoritative Major. But they fail to give the film weight or depth.
And the young aces for whom we should be rooting are one-dimensional figures who fail to develop. The dialogue consists of cliches so ancient they almost feel new.
‘How do ya like that, Mr Hitler’ yells one American pilot, as he single-handedly takes on a navy destroyer.
I got the feeling the film was aimed at 12-year-old African-Americans, when it needed to set its sights much wider.
Still, it’s entertaining and competently crafted by Anthony Hemingway, an accomplished black director who started out on TV’s The Wire. Of all the cinematic debuts this week, his is the most professional.
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