Movie Review: ‘Red Dawn’ (2012)

In Theaters

“Red Dawn,” written by Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore (screenplay), Kevin Reynolds and John Milius (1984 screenplay), directed by Dan Bradley, 114 minutes, rated PG-13.

You know you’re in trouble from the opening moments of Dan Bradley’s “Red Dawn” remake, when you’re subjected to a series of disjointed political soundbites and clips of talking heads, none of which seem to really have any connection. It just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s a pretty accurate forecast for what’s to come.

This actioner takes us to Spokane, Wash., where we meet the Eckert brothers. Jed (Chris Hemsworth) is a Marine just returning from Iraq, while Matt (Josh Peck) is a hotshot high school quarterback who has trouble following orders. Naturally, the two of them butt heads, constantly at odds over their differing personalities.

One morning after a big football game, Spokane is invaded out of the blue by North Korean paratroopers and military who have already infiltrated the country. This attack is on a national scale, not just in Spokane.

Why, exactly, has North Korea invaded the United States? It’s never explained. Somehow, Russia gets involved, too. Again, the reasoning is never explained. But the bad guys have invaded, and they have the upper hand.

The brothers retreat to safety, along with a handful of others who happen to hop on the bandwagon to the family’s cottage deep within the woods. The small group of rebellious youth, who adopt the name The Wolverines, proceed to take up arms, forming a militia under the guidance of Jed to defend Spokane, and in the grand scheme of things, the United States in its entirety.

“Red Dawn” has all the political know-how of the “G.I. Joe” cartoon, but instead of accepting that and making the movie for what it is – pure B-movie entertainment – the filmmakers want it to be taken seriously. Not many will, however, as we watch absurd scenarios unfold in a story with so many holes, it’s as though writers Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore were armed with a Gatling gun of their own.

There are a couple of positive notes about “Red Dawn”: the action is pretty solid, and it’s certainly not afraid to pull the trigger when it comes to killing off its lead characters, both young and old, lending the film an unpredictability and sense of peril that is rare in most PG-13 Hollywood blockbusters. Still, despite those points, and a convincing action hero turn from Hemsworth, there’s just too much ridiculousness here to look past.

Grade: C-

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3 Responses to Movie Review: ‘Red Dawn’ (2012)

  1. Kara says:

    Thanks for the review; it sounds like the Red Dawn remake isn’t worth seeing in theaters. I’ll take it off my list of movies to see. I’m curious about the original though, so I’ll probably check it out sometime this week. It’s available from DISH Online, which has thousands of movies that will stream to my computer, so I’ll be able to watch it whenever it’s convenient for me. That will be helpful since I work odd hours at DISH and have a hard time catching whole movies on TV. The original sounds a little more relevant in terms of the Cold War than the remake too, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it.

  2. DANIELLE says:

    I just saw the new Red Dawn, and I have to say, IT WAS BETTER THAN THE FIRST !!!! I loved the original, but the remake was WAAAYYYY better !!!!

  3. Liz says:

    Just watched it last night. It was a great movie. If you follow the news everyday you wouldn’t need explaination to why the U.S was attacked by NK in the movie. It reffered to how our country run now under Barack. The situation in Red Dawn was sort of like Pearl Harbor in WW2 when the U.S was attacked by the Jap. It’s better to keep your eyes open then to be sorry when it happens. American don’t be navie keep your guns. The world hate the U.S and this could possibly happen if Barack keep it up and act dumb who keeps apologizing to these evil bastard it could totally happen under his watch.

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