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Review: Red Tails

The struggles and triumphs of the Tuskegee Airmen
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  January 24, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars



With a title that refers not to squirrels but to plane markings, Red Tails dramatizes the struggles and triumphs of African-American pioneers, the Tuskegee Airmen. Set in and above Italy in 1944, the true story is filtered through WWII genre film conventions. Producer George Lucas's presence dominates; his minions are responsible for the CGI-aided dogfights between Yanks and Germans — which are rousing, though the planes don't feel substantial. Expect broad strokes rather than nuance as the young men encounter German aces and hostile white comrades. Likewise, scenes in which the Airmen's commander (Terrence Howard) meets with Pentagon brass are clumsy, although they get the point across about entrenched racist attitudes. Still, director Anthony Hemingway and his cast make us care about the team and its members. David Oyelowo stands out as the obligatory hotshot who bristles at having to provide cover for bombers piloted by whites.

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