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Red Tails (2012)


Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 127
Fresh: 51
Rotten: 76

Critics Consensus: Despite a worthy fact-based story and obvious good intentions, Red Tails suffers from one-dimensional characters, corny dialogue, and heaps of clichés.

Average Rating: 5/10
Reviews Counted: 32
Fresh: 8
Rotten: 24

Critics Consensus: Despite a worthy fact-based story and obvious good intentions, Red Tails suffers from one-dimensional characters, corny dialogue, and heaps of clichés.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 47,046


Movie Info

1944. To help win the war, the Pentagon brass has no choice but to consider the untested African-American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program. Just as the young Tuskegee men are about to be shut down and shipped back home, they are given the ultimate chance to show their courage. These intrepid young airmen take to the skies to fight for their country - and the fate of the free world. -- (C) Official Site

PG-13 (for some sequences of war violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
Aaron McGruder , John Ridley
In Theaters:
May 22, 2012
Box Office:
20th Century Fox - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Red Tails

All Critics (127) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (51) | Rotten (76) | DVD (6)

There's no sense of threat or danger: this is a film with its head stuck firmly in the clouds.

Full Review… | June 6, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Sadly, Red Tails tells its inspiring story in the most old-fashioned, Saturday-afternoon-at-the-movies kind of way. The movie occasionally flies but it never soars.

Full Review… | March 2, 2012
Top Critic

This is so generic as storytelling that it fails even as a basic history lesson: it's hard to believe that the stock conflicts on-screen have any connection to real events.

Full Review… | January 23, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

One can get away with a lot of cornball speeches a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away but it doesn't work nearly as well a short time ago on planet Earth.

Full Review… | January 21, 2012
Top Critic

Red Tails is better than nothing - but "nothing" isn't the other option. That HBO film is still out there, and Red Tails doesn't add to it or improve upon it.

Full Review… | January 21, 2012
Top Critic

Instead of pride or anger or resolve, all it left me feeling was a little bit of regret that I hadn't been home, watching "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" instead.

Full Review… | January 20, 2012
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

One longs for more scenes between the ensemble on the ground, but the emphasis on aerial (and digital) technology leaves the characters without context.

Full Review… | November 5, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

A patriotic but blatantly unremarkable film that could have been much much more.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

The actors' convincing portrayals and realistic bond with each other, along with the spectacular visual and sound effects created by Lucas, makes Red Tails feel genuine and powerful.

Full Review… | January 29, 2013
We Got This Covered

With an inspiring source story, talented actors, and one of the most profitable production companies backing the film, it's genuinely hard to imagine where it all went wrong.

Full Review… | September 30, 2012

There certainly is an interesting story to be told at the heart of "Red Tails," but unfortunately director Anthony Hemingway and screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder couldn't get at it.

Full Review… | September 17, 2012

Red Tails is all broad strokes, and I have to admit that it stroked me good.

Full Review… | August 22, 2012

This is a proper war film. That's to say one with crazy dogfights and (no, really) Nazis with prominent scars.

Full Review… | June 11, 2012
Irish Times

The finished product makes a great case, perhaps the best yet filmed, for remaining anonymous and achieving nothing.

Full Review… | June 10, 2012
The Ooh Tray

Why, one wonders, didn't Lucas persuade his friend Steven Spielberg to take on this subject and treat it with the authority and respect he brought to Band of Brothers?

Full Review… | June 10, 2012
Observer [UK]

The actors do their best, but the lines they have to deliver are toe-curlingly bad. Things get better when the planes are in the air, but the film's aerial dogfights are so blatantly computer-generated that the action fails to thrill.

Full Review… | June 8, 2012
Movie Talk

What a missed opportunity.

Full Review… | June 8, 2012
Daily Express

While the film soars in the skies, on the ground there's nothing original in the script.

Full Review… | June 8, 2012
Liverpool Echo

It's an inspirational story and its infectious sense of camaraderie may well be an effective recruitment film for the U.S. air force.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
Daily Mail [UK]

Executive producer George Lucas brings a healthy dose of his Star Wars magic to the CGI of the spectacular aerial sequences.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
Radio Times

The true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, a squadron of African-American second world war flying aces, is one of those amazing tales that you just couldn't make up.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012

Red Tails is a war action buff's matinee delight. It could be argued that making a more gritty account would have detracted from the focus on the strong buddy element ...

Full Review… | June 7, 2012

It functions primarily as a reminder that Cuba Gooding Jr. is still alive and touting for work.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
What Culture

Red Tails has been described as "jingoistic, corny, über-patriotic and old-fashioned", not by some disobliging critic but by George Lucas, its executive producer.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
Daily Telegraph

Like many films honouring the memory of honourable minorities in the grim days before civil rights, this George Lucas-produced war epic is an insomnia cure.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
Financial Times

The distilled essence of this story is surely of more long term value than what Britain's own Tony Scott and Tom Cruise were dealing with in Top Gun.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
Birmingham Post

Audience Reviews for Red Tails

Although I do feel that the Tuskegee pilots deserved better, I don't think that the hate for this movie is really justified. It does suffer from a bad script and amateur direction, it did seem to avoid certain cliches only to stumble into others but I thought the effects were quite good and the performances were strong. It's fair to say I was entertained throughout. It's a wonder the film ever got made at all really, it's a shame it wasn't given the time and care it deserved but it's out there now and that's not a bad thing. Let's give it 7-8 years and I'm sure someone will be inspired to do it properly but honestly, this isn't as bad as all that.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

Excellent movie I can only hope it was all factual, and not points added to justifie race. Movie worth 5 stars

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

The movie has a made-for-TV feel to it and unremarkable characters. Nevertheless, it's an interesting history lesson.

Christian C

Super Reviewer

It appears as if screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder-as well as most of the visual credits-carry little respect toward those who risk their lives in war on a daily basis. Having seen emotionally harrowing films that convey the subject matter, films that scream "war is hell" without any characters needing to say it, I know I would never, ever, ever want to fight in a war. If this was the only war film I had ever seen, I would be quite excited to enlist. The film makes war look like a flamboyant, addicting video game: fun to engage in, exhilarating, fast-paced, and making one eager to visit again.

Ironically, RED TAILS possesses not one of those qualities. It's downright boring and slow, and I'd be surprised if I ever decided to give it another shot. The film lacks a plot. It has a premise, but no particular plot. Set in Italy during World War II, this is a ramshackle chronicle centered on four colored-excuse me, I meant Negro, because apparently that's what they prefer-pilots who are finally given a chance to prove themselves worthy of the Air Force, despite heavy discrimination abundant below them. It's quite disappointing how such an interesting premise collapsed into a repetitive production. Let's start out with...action! Negotiation. Action! Negotiation. Action! You get the picture.


Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer

Red Tails Quotes

Col. A.J. Bullard:
To be absolutely politically correct African Americans won the Battle of Britain and saved the World.
– Submitted by Philip S (17 months ago)
Pretty Boy:
Oh my god....they are African.
– Submitted by Diego L (2 years ago)
Col. A.J. Bullard:
The only respect I have is for the uniform.
– Submitted by Melody B (2 years ago)
Joe "Lightning" Little:
I think I did get myself killed.
– Submitted by Melody B (2 years ago)
Col. A.J. Bullard:
You get us the mission, we'll light up the board.
– Submitted by Renae B (2 years ago)
Joe 'Lightning' Little:
From the last plane, to the last bullet, to the last minute, to the last man, we fight!
– Submitted by Megan O (2 years ago)

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