tHIS spirited though somewhat problematic WWII drama has long been a cherished project of its executive producer, George Lucas.
As such, it bears the hallmarks of the Star Wars guru in its visual grandeur, combined with storytelling weakness and some quite honking lines of dialogue.
Opening with a very impressive aerial dogfight, we're then taken into Italy in 1944 where we're introduced to the Tuskegee Airmen, a squadron of black pilots who wonder if they're even useful to the war effort, and aren't instead just being used in clean-up operations well away from the front line.
The perception among the top brass in the US armed forces at the time was that black soldiers were unfit for service.
The Tuskegee Airmen want to be a proper part of the war, but still face resistance and racial abuse from white officers even after successful missions.
But when they're given the chance for a bigger mission, to be air support for bombers as part of Operation Shingle, this gives them the opportunity to show what skilful pilots they truly are.
Handsomely put together and clearly an important and fascinating history lesson as well as a damning portrait of racial intolerance, this is a simplistic but valuable adventure that's rarely less than watchable.
Established stars like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard play the more senior officers, but it's left to lesser known, sometimes not very strong, actors to do the heavy lifting, and they're often powerless against the more unspeakable lines of dialogue.
Thankfully there's a decent amount and variety of combat to distract our attention from the cheesy and clunky stuff in between, and the computer-generated battles are fast, immersive and exciting.
In most other departments that's sadly not the case however, and flat and clichéd characters abound, like the hothead, the drinker and the guy with the sweetheart
Side-plots are either a distraction or brushed over, and though it's too long, that can sometimes give it the feeling of a mini-series cut to movie length.
But Red Tails comes alive enough during the action, and is historically worthwhile enough that it's just about possible to overlook its many flaws.
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Running time: 125 mins
SEE IT IF YOU LIKED:
Miracle at St Anna; Flags of Our Fathers