Movie Review: Red Dawn

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Peck, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Will Yun Lee

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language , Running time 114 minutes, Action/Adventure

Compare to: Iron Eagle (1986), Battleship (2012)

This remake of the 1984 film Red Dawn does for war what a comedic overtone would do for a story involving pedophilia. Is pedophilia funny? Nah. But the Red Dawn creators will have you thinking war and killing people is fun. Who cares, though right? We’re already exposed to so much. Might as well have a movie about a bunch of kids killing soldiers passed off as “intense” and “cool” while we’ve got the chance.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m all about violence in film. But in a story like this, it should be handled a little more seriously. So when the movie’s premise is “Go ahead- be a man and KILL SOMEBODY,” we’re not only behind the enemy lines of Stupidity, we’re POWs. 

After the power goes out across certain parts of America, North Korea begins dropping their soldiers in, occupying the territory. But a group of kids in Washington led by a Marine on leave (Hemsworth) decide that they’re not going to be a part of the “new America,” and they begin fighting back and earning America the title “The Home of the Brave.”

Honestly, I’m not a fan of the original. I keep getting verbally spit on for it, as it keeps being called a “classic” but the premise has never sat right with me. Sure, fighting for your homeland is honorable but this films glosses over anything that would actually resemble war in favor of telling you that once your parents are dead, you are your own man who needs to kill something. Y’know, like what men do.

At random moments, we’re given brief exchanges that want you to think anyone here gives a crap about the repercussions of what anybody is actually doing when we know they don’t. Their little “war is hell” and “You don’t want this life” monologues from Hemsworth come off more as “You’re not as cool as me” and “War is like, violent.” Their messages would have had actual impact and the movie would have been good had it not been for the fact that it’s clear they don’t care about consequences so long as they get back to the action. Which is also not good.

Here’s how the movie went:

Something good happens
Something bad happens
Regroup
Prepare
Fight

(Repeat X5)

It happens throughout the entire film. I felt like I watched it all in the first twenty minutes. About thirty minutes into the attack on America, we’re given scenes where the characters are discussing what they miss about back in the day. As far as I could tell, the attack had only happened a couple days ago but evidently it was supposed to be much longer. The “Wolverines,” as the group of killer kids (ages 17-35) call themselves, are trained five minutes after the attacks and learn everything they’ve ever needed to know in a freaking day. So I guess you could say there’s a pacing problem.

Plot holes are abound in this film like a minefield as well. The Wolverines are perfectly hidden until it’s not convenient for the plot anymore, while much of the story stems from the character’s doing really stupid things. Josh Peck gets a team member killed and ruins the mission to save his imprisoned girlfriend. When he finds out he got a buddy killed, he leaves and it’s described that “He’s been gone for days.” So Hemsworth walks out to where Peck is: right over the hill, moping around. So…he’s been around the corner for days, wasting everyone’s time, doing what? Fill in your own blanks. You wouldn’t necessarily consider this a plot hole as much as you would plot-induced stupidity and this movie is also full of that.

Don’t think that living out in the woods after Korea has attacked will have anybody’s look changing either. Characters just have clean clothes and their five o’ clock shadow will stay the same length, while the make up on the women doesn’t ever mess up nor are they ever “un-prettied” by the harsh terrain in which they live. Man, what was Tom Hanks’ problem in Cast Away then? Sure, he got a tan, but what was with that beard? Couldn’t he shave with like, a rock or something? GAW.

While the premise of the film seems kind of ignorant to actual soldiers, the film goes a step further by having the kids help the actual Marines they encounter. At a few moments in, the trained soldiers are in awe of what they kids are capable of, smiling in satisfaction with lines like “Damn!” It just felt lame and petty. Unless you are a teenager who wants to join the military and like to imagine yourself killing foreign scum and even class mates, not to mention have an extremely vague concept of such serious acts portrayed in this movie (the act of killing, your country losing control to another, parents dying), I don’t see how you could enjoy this movie.

This movie seems to want a pat on the back every time a character shoots somebody. Oo-rah.

Grade: D

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