Back in 1984, the Soviet Union invaded the United States. Thankfully, Patrick Swayze was there to stop them. Thirty years later, those pesky communists are back at again, opting to invade the strategically unimportant Spokane, Washington in the unnecessary and uninspired remake Red Dawn.
Our nation's defense is now left to Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Wonder Woman herself Adrianne Palicki, who take to guerilla warfare tactics to disrupt the occupation of the North Korean soldiers who have taken over the country.
It's not completely surprising that a remake of Red Dawn was made. Though it received mix reviews upon its initial release, the original film is now considered a cult classic. However, while the film is still entertaining, it does exude a certain cheesiness factor. Remaking the story theoretically allows new audiences to engage with a movie that is essentially about an American resistance to foreign invaders.
Unfortunately, no one updated the story.
Sure, the Soviets are gone, replaced with North Koreans (who were Chinese until the studio gods realized Chinese moviegoers might not be as inclined to go see a movie where they are the bad guys) and the characters have been modernized, but the story is the same. And after 30 years of military advancement and economic evolution, the story feels more and more dated. The Cold War is over. How an enemy would attack the United States has changed. How we would respond has changed.
This new Red Dawn had the opportunity to take a different slant on an American invasion. Yes, the likelihood of an all-out invasion on United States soil is as farfetched now as it was in 1984, but that aside, Red Dawn had potential to tackle serious and relevant issues. After years of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, the movie could have explored the fine line between terrorist and freedom fighter. Or it could have demonstrated how a foreign force could realistically take over part of the country, and why they would do it. Or how an insurgency would grow over time and force the occupiers out of the country.
Instead, this Red Dawn plays just like 1984's Red Dawn. And thirty years later, it doesn't play nearly as well.
The final scene doesn't help. Just as the uprising is beginning to swell, it appears the filmmakers run out of money. The movie literally stops in the middle - or at the beginning - of its biggest action scene and goes to the credits. I had to rewind I was so surprised.
In fairness, there are some decent if forgettable action sequences. Stunt coordinator-turned-director Dan Bradley maintains a fast pace and does what he can with the screenplay at hand, which features shallow character development and a too-straight-for-its-own-good storyline. The movie is relatively painless to watch. There just isn't much reason to watch.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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