Posted November 19, 2012 by Daniel Hodgson in
Wall-to-wall action does not mean wall-to-wall excitement in this remake of the 1984 film.
High School quarterback Matt Eckert (Josh Peck) hears a loud crash outside of his home. He goes outside and looks up. Fighter planes and paratroopers fill the sky. North Korea has invaded Spokane, Washington. Soon after, the United States is under foreign control.
Matt’s older brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth), a young U.S. Marine, rescues Matt and several of his friends, and takes them to a cabin in the mountains. Soon after, the Korean Prefect (Will Yun Lee) finds the cabin, and murders Matt and Jed’s father while they watch on helplessly. Jed swears to avenge their father, and fight back against the invaders. Jed trains the young teens in guerrilla warfare, who call themselves “The Wolverines” after their school mascot. The Wolverines wreak havoc upon the occupying force, stealing their weapons and attacking their facilities.
A remake of a 1984 film of the same name, Red Dawn looks like a Michael Bay knock-off, much like Battleship was. It’s all close-ups shot in shaky-cam. There’s hot chicks and explosions galore. Unlike its predecessor, this version features an interracial cast to ensure a broader audience demographic. That’s all well and good, but the developed characters are all Caucasian. The minority characters don’t speak much, and have much shorter life-spans. We’re just not attached enough to the characters for the death scenes to have the poignancy they pretend to have. Thus, there is much death on the screen, but little tragedy.
Josh Hutcherson of Hunger Games fame plays as Robert in a supporting role. Robert is the smart one of the group; a thinker, not a fighter, but he eventually finds courage within himself in the heat of battle. Matt on the other hand is a loose cannon, and following orders is not his forte, especially coming from his estranged brother Jed (the casting doesn’t work here, they look nothing alike). There are a few character arcs here, and I give the remake credit for that much.
However, as a story, Red Dawn rushes headlong into the action, and short changes the bulk of the other characters. The ending lacks the closure the original had, and screams for a follow-up film it does not deserve. While the shoot-out at the climax has some excitement, the rest of the action scenes are fairly pedestrian. There are touches of humor that make it enjoyable, but this version is pure Redbox, at best.