“Red Tails” was directed by Anthony Hemingway in his directorial debut. Th film is based on the real life Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black United States Army Air Force during World War II. The film stars Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, Method Man, Andre Royo & Bryan Cranston. Terrence Howard starred in 2002’s “Hart’s War” in which he played a Tuskegee Airman. Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the HBO made for TV film, “The Tuskegee Airman”. George Lucas served as executive producer and had been a passion project of his since his original idea for it in 1988. This was the first film produced by Lucasfilm since 1994 that wasn’t a part of the “Indiana Jones” or “Star Wars” franchises.
As World War II rages on, a group of young black fighter pilots who are training with mediocre equipment and are given nonsensical missions, are selected to serve as bomber escorts after a number of those missions fail due to their fighter pilots leaving them defenseless in hostile German airspace. Captain Martin “Easy” Julian (Parker), 1st Lieutenant Joe “Lightning” Little (Oyelowo), 2nd Lieutenants Ray “Ray Gun” Gannon (Wilds), Andrew “Smokey” Salem (Ne-Yo), Samuel “Joker” George (Kelley) and Flight Officer Maurice “Bumps” Wilson (Jordan) make up the group known as The Tuskegee Airmen under the command of Colonel AJ Bullard (Howard) and Major Emanuel Stance (Gooding Jr.). After their first successful mission as escorts, the group has their planes upgraded and are given more high priority missions. However, word also spreads to Nazi Air Force that this new pilot team is much more formidable than the previous one. As the Tuskegee are earning both high praise from their respected branches, the enemy is becoming more dangerous than ever, even revealing fighter jets which are much faster and carry more power than any plane the Air Force has to offer. The War escalates with each passing day and becomes much more difficult as the Tuskegee remain successful.
For a war film made by LucasFilm, this wasn’t too bad all. The performances were great, the action sequences were awesome. The storyline was a bit cliche and had a few plot holes and unnecessary elements but overall it worked out in the end. Nate Parker and David Oyelowo are stand outs, giving solid performances which actually carry the emotional weight of the film. Yeah, this film does have its war movie cliches but it comes with the story. The entertainment value is there and enough to look past certain things.
After the film, Anthony Hemingway would not direct another film, instead focusing more on TV shows. He has directed episodes for shows such as “True Blood”, “Shameless”, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”, “Power” & “The Newsroom”. In 2016, Nate Parker would direct, write and star in “Birth of Nation”, a film based on the Nat Turner rebellion during slavery in 1831. This would be the last film released by Lucasfilm before the company was bought by Disney.