Red Tails

January 20th 2012
  • Action/Adventure,
  • PG-13,
  • 120 min,
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Cast: Bryan Cranston, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Daniella Ruah, Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, Tristian Wilds, Ryan Early, Method Man, Gerald McRaney, Andre Royo, Lee Tergesen, Josh Dallas, Michael B.Jordon, Ne-Yo, Kevin Phillips, Robert Kazinsky, Rick Otto, Elijah Kelley, Marcus T. Paulk, Leslie Odom Jr., Jazmine Sullivan, Edwina Finley, Stacie Davis, Amel Ameen, Jesse Williams
  • Director: Anthony Hemingway
  • Writers: John Ridley, Aaron McGruder, George Lucas
  • Producer: Rick McCallum
  • Co Producer: Ales Komárek
  • Executive Producers: George Lucas, Chas. Floyd Johnson
  • Art Direction: Jindrich Kocí
  • Castings: Alexa L.Fogel, Christine Kromer
  • Costume Design: Alison Mitchell
  • D.O.P.: John Aronson
  • Editor: Michael O'Halloran
  • Makeup: Sharon Martin
  • Music: Terence Blanchard
  • Production Designs: Michael Carlin, Nick Palmer
  • Set Decoration: Tina Jones


World War II rages and the fate of the free world hangs in the balance. Meanwhile the black pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program are courageously waging two wars at once -- one against enemies overseas, and the other against discrimination within the military and back home.

Racial prejudices have long held ace airman Martin "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker) and his black pilots back at base -- leaving them with little to do but further hone their flying skills -- while their white counterparts are shipped out to combat after a mere three months of training. Mistakenly deemed inferior and assigned only second-rate planes and missions, the pilots of Tuskegee have mastered the skies with ease but have not been granted the opportunity to truly spread their wings. Until now.

As the war in Europe continues to take its dire toll on Allied forces, Pentagon brass has no recourse but to reconsider these under-utilized pilots for combat duty. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) awards them the ultimate chance to prove their mettle high above.

Undaunted by the prospect of providing safe escort to bombers in broad daylight -- a mission so dangerous that the RAF has refused it and the white fighter groups have sustained substantial losses -- Easy's pilots at last join the fiery aerial fray. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies in a heroic endeavor to combat the enemy -- and the discrimination that has kept them down for so long.

Basic Information

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Filming Locations: Prague, Czech Republic; San Rafael, USA
  • MPAA Warning: Some sequences of war violence
  • Production Budget: $58 Million
  • Production Companies: Lucasfilm, Partnership Pictures
  • Production Schedule: March 2009 - September 2009

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2012 Guide Analysis: "After two decades of development, George Lucas' Tuskegee Airmen film finally got off the ground and filmed throughout the second half of 2009 in the Czech Republic with "Ali" and "The Manchurian Candidate" first A.D. Anthony Hemingway making his directing debut on the $58 million project which Lucas funded himself (along with dolling out a further $35 million for distribution).

The story is set in 1944 with Allied forces suffering heavy casualties, while the black pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program find discrimination keeping them grounded. When a mission so dangerous comes up no-one wants it, these airmen finally get a chance to prove their mettle.

John Ridley ("Bobby," "Undercover Brother") adapted Lucas' outline into a script based on a fascinating true story that looks to have been homogenised into a feel good anti-racism studio picture with a couple of CG heavy WWII aerial dogfights thrown in to pull in audiences.

High definition Sony F35 cameras were used for the main shoot, but what is said to be some fairly heavy reshoots by Lucas himself (Hemingway was too busy with HBO's "Treme" to do them) utilises consumer-level DSLR digital cameras to shoot some of the flying and cockpit sequences where the larger cameras were just inappropriate.

The cast has some odd choices, most interesting is that no less than five actors on this were also cast members on "The Wire". Its budget is more substantial that many films with a mostly African-American cast which has led to Lucas being vocally concerned that if the film fails it will have negative repercussions for black filmmakers. If it succeeds though he's already planning a prequel and a sequel."

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