Movie Review: Red Dawn
A cloud of red-hot American can-do patriotism swirls around the silly and superficial remake of Red Dawn, an action film from the 1980’s that today feels exactly like an action film from the 1980’s. It’s got the typical cast of one-dimensional characters, including the brazen leader, the outspoken youngster, and a couple heart-of-golf bumbling sidekicks, as well as an ominous and generic villain made exceptionally cartoonish and non-offensive.
When the eldest son of a police officer brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth) returns to his small town in the Pacific Northwest from another stint in the war overseas, he reconnects with the locals and his younger brother, but is joined by an surprise guest when North Korea—that North Korea–literally drops in out of the sky.
The North Koreans invade in this version of the movie—it was the Soviets in the original—and they are far more adorable and inept than your average invading nation. They would be none too happy with their representation in the film, but then again, they don’t have movies in North Korea.
That there is the kind of deference paid to a group of enemies that are easy to make fun of in this very much non-geopolitical and superficial rebellion tale.
There is little of substance, but at least director Dan Bradley knows it, though he tries hard to be serious, as not all our heroes survive the early and ongoing fights. The invasion happens seemingly moments into the film, loudly, and quite astonishingly. After the kids take some time to regroup and figure out just what is going on, we are going to need in typical 80’s movie fashion, that’s right, a montage (even Rocky had a montage).
Jed teaches them all how to be soldiers, or better yet, insurgents with a fantastical montage that is one of the brilliantly absurd heights of the film. Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Peck, and a bunch of other 20-somethings become the Wolverines (an example of why Pussy Riot is a far superior subversive moniker), battling the North Koreans, as well as their own hormones and misplaced idealism that would make even Rick Grime roll his eyes.
It could go further though, never quite reaching the gleeful ridiculousness of a Fast and Furious film or the blind patriotism of Independence Day, but it maintains a pretty steady pace that never allows you to think too much about what you’re watching. If you chose to focus on the bellicose Americanism themes, then clearly you’re not getting things. It’s a satisfyingly joke of a film, with a 1980’s teenage spirit, a 1990’s style of action, and no depth or message whatsoever making it brilliant fodder for the Mystery Science Theatre treatment.
And in that, it’s exactly how you want it to be. Bring a friend, make fun of it throughout, and wave your flag.