“Red Tails,” out Friday, proves what writing can do. It can take a great story — in this case, the Tuskegee Airmen’s — and turn it into a horrible script. The first 30 seconds of this film has the worst dialogue I’ve heard in recent cinema, and that includes the “Twilight” films.
Writers John Ridley and Aaron McGruder (the latter is the brilliant mind behind “The Boondocks,” which makes the whole thing more confusing) take men who were heroes in Europe and second-class citizens at home and put lines in their mouths that wouldn’t sound out of place in an elementary school play. (You know, like when Soldier No. 1 points to the distance and says, “But look! General Washington approaches!” or when Apple No. 3 says, “I also contain fiber!”) An example: When escorting a squadron of bombers, the Airmen elect not to chase down German fighters, as their white predecessors had. Seeing this, one of the bomber pilots says, “They gave up glory to save our asses!” Yes, writers. We can see that. On the screen. Where a movie is playing. A movie that just showed what you said.
The special effects are breathtaking, but zooming planes and booming guns can’t counteract the clunky writing. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is one of the best to come out of WWII, and the men who lived to tell their tale don’t deserve to have it told like this.