Film #39 in the World War II Marathon covers a very interesting topic, but does that make for an interesting movie?
Teleplay By: Trey Ellis, Ron Hutchinson & Paris Qualles
Directed By: Robert Markowitz
There are many sins that a film can commit to slowly turn me against it. But, it takes a special type of film to muster up some sort of perfect storm where so many sins are being committed at once that my mind, well it doth be blown. And that, to no one’s surprise, brings me to The Tuskegee Airmen. A film about a topic that I have always been interested in and have read numerous books and articles on throughout the years. And this, this movie is the best that the world of film has to offer? Well, color me unimpressed, heck, color me offended if you’re looking for a strong stand. There are many things wrong with The Tuskegee Airmen, so many different things that I’m not even going to attempt to tackle all of them. Just a taste, only a small taste of my dislike for this film is what you shall receive.
A while ago I wrote a scathing review of the 2004 Oscar winner, Crash. I’ve always been scathing in my rhetoric about that motion picture, and that’s why you should immediately understand why The Tuskegee Airmen rubbed me the wrong way when I tell you that it reminded me of a technically lesser version of Crash. Racism, pow, hey look, more racism, pow, a speech, pow, some more racism, pow, wait a second, here’s a name actor… and more racism, pow! Are you still conscious, because if you are we have a lot more to cover, so let’s go. Racism, pow-pow, rampant racism, pow-pow-pow, speech, interrupted by another speech, pow-pow-pow-pow. Okay, that’s it, I’m calling it, there’s no reason for any man, woman, or child to be subjected to such a beating. The Tuskegee Airmen is a constant drubbing, a drubbing of racism, in a world where ninety nine percent of the people we meet are racist of course, and give speeches about said racism.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that in real life the men who trained at Tuskegee endured copious amounts of racism. But, film is not history, and that’s why for as much as I can forgive the historical inaccuracies that riddle this film I can not forgive the blunt end of a hammer approach that all those involved with The Tuskegee Airmen take in showing its audience the racism in question. Was there racism, of course there was. Could the racism have been presented on screen in a more honest and thus powerful fashion, you bet your sweet ass it could. And that ladies and gents is reason number one why The Tuskegee Airmen is the dregs of the moving pictures world.
I also have a major problem with truncated films, those movies that don’t present a complete film. The Tuskegee Airmen is one such picture, the director, Robert Markowitz, never allows the audience to take anything in. It’s like the drubbing I spoke of earlier, he moves from scene to scene and throughout history in such a rapid fashion that it was nearly impossible for me to get my footing. If you blink at any point during The Tuskegee Airmen you are likely to have missed up to two years worth of story. Yeah, yeah, it’s egregious hyperbole, but if The Tuskegee Airmen doesn’t care about entertaining me then I take the kiddie gloves off.
I think that’s enough, there’s no need for me to continue to pile on The Tuskegee Airmen. I will say this much, I still prefer this movie to the aforementioned Crash, but that’s only because the subject matter appeals to me more here. Then again, it should probably piss me off even more because I love the subject matter and it’s given the shaft in this film. Be that as it may, I can’t recommend The Tuskegee Airmen to anyone. It’s not a well made film, it’s not a film that handles its themes in any sort of satisfactory manner. The Tuskegee Airmen is a series of blunt disappointments, disappointments that you should spare yourself from experiencing.