The brother in-law, a friend, and I journeyed to watch the unwarranted remake of Red Dawn. My friend was concerned about seating arrangements as he assumed it would have a bigger opening than a Twilight sequel, but as we easily took our seats we were quickly reminded of how wrong he was. Granted living in Texas this seems like the perfect film for gun toting folks who love the fantasy of killing communists while defending their homeland, but I guess most decided the original was enough as there were maybe 40 people in the auditorium.
I don't imagine Red Dawn was intended by anyone involved in the making of the film to be a great movie, considering it does little if nothing to expand on what had already been said by the original 1984 cult classic. Yes the previous film is not a good one, but it's a masterpiece compared to this attempt to make gung-ho fanatics wash their shorts when they get home.
The original's premise is that Cuban and Soviet forces combine their strength to engage in a shooting war with the US. They make it to Colorado, where a group of mostly teenagers band together to engage in a guerrilla war with the communist occupiers. While the premise is laughable now, a good number of people at the time of its production seriously believed in a land invasion of the most powerful country in the world. This was the time of the Cold War, where our main enemy was uniformed, and our fate was uncertain with various threats of nuclear annihilation, secret socialists infiltrating our government, and numerous proxy wars were waged across the globe with our weapons, if not our own troops, between us and the Soviets. It was a dark and cynical time in our nation's history, and Red Dawn exploited those who were fearful of a terrible end to our country.
With all it's flaws, you would think the crafters of the remake would expand upon the few strengths of the original. In the Patrick Swayze led film, we had enemies who actually seemed human, who understood the nature of war, and had a personality. In this one, we have an Asian guy who acts as a plot device rather than a character, who's acting range is limited to that of displaying anger. In the previous movie, the only sexual tension in the film was subtle, and the end to it was somewhat moving. In this one it's a sophomoric and silly attempt to make the audience believe these characters need to be together simply because they're the best looking people in the cast, and their blessed genetics dictate affection, personality be damned.
One thing the film does well is give you a heightened sense of action, probably due to the claustrophobic feel of urban warfare, whereas the original was mostly set in a rural setting. There's little CGI, which gives the sense that these moments could actually happen. Yet that's faint praise as none of the characters are interesting. None. Not a one. Sure they have learning moments, and the stakes are high given that North Korea, a nation that can't generate 24x7 electricity for its people, has somehow invaded the pacific northwest for reasons that are unclear, but I couldn't bring myself to give two shits about the cast. And yes, I was disappointed no one peed in the radiator.
The three of us walked out of the movie as it ended, and it was clear I enjoyed it less than the other two, but still it gave me pause to think of the moments in the film, one where my brother in-law commented that you know it's in the Northwest as there was a lot of flannel, but instead of using Seattle as a backdrop it used Spokane. Probably a smart choice as the city of Seattle isn't known for their gun ownership and fighting ability, and audiences would think the idea of Seattle folk waging guerrilla war would be less realistic than a nation without much infrastructure somehow bringing their army past Japan. Spokane is a bit more red state and a beautiful city. Sadly the director decided to film elsewhere for whatever reason.
It was brought up how well a paratrooper invasion would go in Texas, and the comical, albeit likely, idea of citizens running out of their homes attempting to take pot shots at an invading army slowly descending upon the ground seemed an interesting one, until you imagine the invaders spraying hellfire with their AKs. Still in this movie's logic the teenagers shoot with such accuracy all of them could be contestants on Top Shot, while the North Koreas clearly were trained in sharpshooting by Stormtroopers.
As previously mentioned, this film's enemy is the hermit, Stalinist-like state of North Korea, which originally was the Chinese, but after careful consideration it was determined that it wouldn't be good to piss off Bejing so this movie could be played in that lucrative market. I don't know how wise that decision was, as if I were a part of Chinese Parliment and the Americans released this tripe into my country, I'd swiftly move to declare war.
This film plays mostly like a Call of Duty game, which they reference in the film, but the dialogue is worse and the characters are less developed. It's a movie for the ra-ra bring it on you slanty eyed commies crowd, who some secretly and some not so, wish for an invasion so they can prove themselves as efficient as the Minutemen, to prove their masculinity and patriotism. I can't fault those stereotypes that I've probably invented too much, as I too harbor some war time fantasies for reasons that would be best explained in other post. And really, given its PG-13 rating, it's mostly for kids. I'm sure if I were 15 I'd love this film as much as I did the original back in the day. For those who want to wash themselves in a somewhat gritty film about fighting evil forces in the den of your home, there are better films, including the original. This one made me wish for an invasion if only for that moment so I could have a good excuse to walk out of the theatre.
"If the North Koreans invaded and saw this movie, they'd probably just turn back." - Jeffery M Anderson