Review: Red Dawn / Director: Dan Bradley / Screenplay: Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore / Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Edwin Hodge, Brett Cullen, Alyssa Diaz, Julian Alcaraz, Will Yun Lee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan / Release Date: March 15th
The original Red Dawn was an improbable bit of 80's nostalgia where a group of teenagers (Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen among them) went up against an invading army of para-trooping Russians on our own home soil. The film was dumb even by 80's standards, best remembered for brat packers screaming “Wolverines!” each time a Commie was killed.
You would think nearly 30 years after its release someone would figure out how to make this material compelling, but no. Screenwriters Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore simply switched out the invading force (Koreans instead of Russians) and left in everything else that made the first film a goofy exercise in homegrown patriotism. Now a group of trendy young adults get to scream “Wolverines!” each time a Korean baddie is killed.
Red Dawn deals with two brothers (Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck) who must put their differences aside and rally their friends together when a North Korean army air drops into Spokane, Washington and starts doing the things that invading armies do (see American military history for reference). Apparently they got their hands on one wicked EMP (electromagnetic pulse) device that knocked out cable and internet service across the country. Without any access to digital porn, these over-aged highschoolers quickly montage into a competent fighting force and give the Koreans a run for their money, adopting the name Wolverines from their football team.
This reviewer is convinced that if America ever really was invaded, most people wouldn't care so long as they could continue to shop at Best Buy and drink Starbucks coffee. Director Dan Bradley (a former stuntman) makes absolutely no effort to create a realistic scenario for the players involved, or the audience. Instead he resides himself to overly familiar stock screenplay characters without any charisma or story arcs and spends much of the time blowing up a greater portion of Spokane. Seriously, would anyone really miss Spokane?
This pointless remake has had a long gestation period. Originally completed in 2009, the film was shelved for three years and had its invading force change from the Chinese to the Koreans in order to maintain access for an international release. Regardless of the villains, the film remains an incompetent series of badly shot action set pieces and character scenes that are better suited to direct to DVD fare rather than soiling up cinema houses worldwide.
If Red Dawn featured X-Men's Wolverine instead of the Wolverines we might have had a bit of popcorn fun. As it stands, Red Dawn is a film best left un-invaded.