As long as it stays in the air, Red Tails ... is a compelling sky-war pageant of a movie. On the ground, it's a far shakier experience: dutiful and prosaic, with thinly scripted episodes that don't add up to a satisfying story.
—Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly
The action-and-effects version of the Tuskegee airmen's story flies only when it's off the ground.
—Todd McCarthy Hollywood Reporter
Apart from the occasional thrill provided by CG-enhanced aerial dogfights, this stuffy history lesson about the groundbreaking African-American fighter pilot division never quite takes off, weighed down by wooden characters and leaden screenwriting.
—Peter Debruge Variety
To say that this live-action comic book lives up to Mr. Lucas's description is not a wholehearted endorsement. Are teenage boys as naïve today as they were 60 or more years ago? And much of the dialogue is groaningly clunky. But so it was back then.
—Stephen Holden New York Times
The Tuskegee Airmen deserve a lot better than this.
—Bill Gibron filmcritic.com
The aerial sequences look an awful lot like X-wing-versus-TIE-fighter battles and the effects have the same not-quite-solid feel of the Star Wars prequels. When the heroes crash, they go up in blazes of digital glory that seem just as artificial as the plotting that brought them to their fates.
—Keith Phipps Onion AV Club