Credits: George Lucas of Star Wars fame was the executive producer. It stars Cuba Gooding Jr and Terrence Howard. Method Man and Ne-Yo also appear. It was written by Aaron McGruder (“The Boondocks”) and John Ridley (“Three Kings”, “Undercover Brother”). It is the first film by television director Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire”).
Bottom line: The dogfights were good – what you would expect from Lucas – but the plot was weak, slow and whitewashed.
A shame since Lucas has been working on this film on and off since 1988. He wanted it to come out in 1992 but the big money in Hollywood would not touch it: it was an all-black film, which meant a limited audience. Lucas had to put his own millions into it.
The true story is just loaded in irony and conflict – fighting racist Nazis while fighting against American racism – but the writers threw it away. The racism was too weak and the proving themselves bit came too easily.
Only a few whites in the film were racist, cartoon racists at that, and none of them serious characters. Most whites were well-meaning, fair-minded and readily admitted blacks were good pilots once they were given the chance to prove it. Not only that, they even dropped their segregationist ways by letting them into the whites officers’s club and were laughing and drinking and telling corny jokes in no time! Wow. Even 70 years later America does not work like that.
I assume they were going for at least part of the white market, but that is a knife in the heart of any story about the Tuskegee airmen. They were more than just some black men who flew planes and shot down Nazis.
Some stuff they left out:
- The race riots that were going on back home as they were fighting overseas for “democracy”.
- The racism they faced when they returned home.
- How they affected the desegregation of the military
- The true story about the officers’s clubs.
- Their arrival in Morocco
- How blacks had to fight tooth and nail just to get pilots and mechanics admitted into the air force.
- Black women
The only time you see a black woman in any form it is as a painting on one of the planes, and you never get a good look at her – she is always edging out of the frame or gets cut off. I was not sure if she was a black mermaid or what. Talk about marginalization!
The only time you see a picture of any of their wives or girlfriends it is a picture of a white woman. Like black women do not matter or something.
To its credit the black characters were not stereotyped, though they were still pretty thin.
I like how they showed the mechanics because that is what I would have been.