Producer George Lucas’s passion project about the Tuskegee airmen is competent but not ambitious. It ought to be ambitious. The dogfights, exciting as they are, take up half the screen time and nearly all of the drama. But it’s the battle on the ground — against a military that accepted African-Americans’ service while still rejecting their essential equality — that makes the story so significant. And that battle gets shoddy treatment: exposition, speeches, and emotional fizzle. Winning in the air is supposed to prove the airmen’s point. But here, it feels like it is the point. 2012.

Matthew Lickona

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