Red Dawn (2012)
Red Dawn is a Conservative’s wet dream, a film built on the backs of armed high school students and foreign villains. It is an unnecessary and ridiculous remake of the 1984 picture of the same name. This round is directed by Dan Bradley and carries all the sense and originality of an outmoded, fatuous Tea Party rally.
In fairness, this movie wasn’t made for me. It was made for believers in the pipe dream of broad-stroke global enemies with nebulous agendas and cartoonish ways of carrying out those agendas. It was made for lovers of good old boys, small towns, football, guns, and non-threatening females. It was made, without a hint of irony, for doe-eyed jingoists and backwoods survivalists.
Red Dawn introduces a United States weakened by the economic downturn. The opportunistic North Koreans see this as the perfect chance to take advantage, so they rally their considerable troops and literally drop in on America. The action of the film takes place in Spokane, a strategic hotbed like none other.
Unfortunately for the North Koreans, Spokane is home to a group of young people ready to fight back. Led by U.S. Marine Jed (Chris Hemsworth) and his football player brother Matt (Josh Peck), the small resistance tangles with the army on the mean streets of the Washington town. The North Koreans are easily flummoxed by the group, which holes up in the mountains between strikes.
If there was a point in describing the characters in much detail, I would. Matt is naturally dating a cheerleader (Isabel Lucas) and has to rescue her from a camp. There are also some pointless supporting characters, including Josh Hutcherson’s personality-challenged Robert and the unfortunate scapegoat (Connor Cruise). Will Yun Lee plays a dull villain whose main purpose appears to be to lug around a glorified briefcase.
Red Dawn belongs to the males. Matt and Jed are being raised by their father (Brett Cullen) with just one mention of their deceased mother. There are no other mothers in the storyline, despite numerous mentions of fathers. The females that are featured, including Lucas’ cheerleader and Adrianne Palicki as a requisite lover interest for Jed, have little to do beyond look dazed.
I wish I could say that Red Dawn seems self-aware (or aware of what year it is), but I can’t. This epic stink-bomb wastes little time with details and never offers a sensible reason as to why the North Koreans would want to invade, let alone occupy. They seem to want to restore America to its former glory, a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.
In light of all of this freedom-threatening mumbo jumbo, it’s the good guys in the woods with the guns that will save the day. The U.S. military is helpless, so justification for a well-armed populace isn’t a tough sell. Wayne LaPierre would be tickled pink at the idea of a group of adolescent patriots saving the day while Obama’s established order fails at the flick of a switch. The only thing missing is a Ted Nugent cameo.
This is just a bad movie. While movies like The Expendables and its sequel work to jam some fun into the genre, Red Dawn is a mopey, xenophobic stew flavoured with bad acting, ludicrous action sequences and a dumb plot. It doesn’t even allow the luxury of decent gore or solid kills to pass the time, making it one of the most shameless and senseless exercises I’ve ever experienced.