Review: Red Dawn
PLOT: When America finds itself under attack, it is up to a scrappy group of teenagers and an Iraq War Veteran to fight the good fight and kick some commie butt. Sadly THOR can’t even save this one.
Let’s not take into account all the inconsistencies in RED DAWN, the latest remake to hit theatres. Forget about the fact that even deep in the woods after several days a cell phone seems to continually have power. Don’t even worry about how this ragtag group of clueless teenagers can become so skilled at weaponry and tactical maneuvers that they become more efficient than the Marines. The fact is a movie like this cannot be taken seriously in any way shape or form. You have to go in suspending all belief at the door. Yet it is very hard not to get over how bloody bland this by the numbers remake ultimately is.
Based on the 1984 film of the same name, America is invaded by a foreign power and it is up to a scrappy group of holdouts to take their country back. While many consider the original film to be a classic 80’s flick, it is not necessarily a great film. However it certainly has a proud to be American vibe with a likable cast that is gung ho to go fight against the bad guys. The remake is a pale and lifeless version of the original, one that fails to conjure any honest to goodness patriotism. Sure the villains are different and it is not necessarily a shot for shot remake, but it is still no more than a cheap carbon copy.
Chris Hemsworth has proven more than once that he is a very charismatic leading man. Even here, as Jed Eckert – an Iraq War Veteran – he is actually pretty good. So why on earth would they cast Josh Peck – an actor with absolutely zero resemblance to Chris – as his brother? They could have at least tried to get two actors that looked somewhat similar. One can only hope that they at one point asked Liam Hemsworth to do it and he turned it down. Peck isn’t necessarily bad here, he just isn’t nearly as interesting as his on-screen brother. You almost have to laugh out loud when they mention sibling rivalry when these two actors are on-screen. This is a simple case of bad casting. It might have made for a more interesting pairing if one of them had been adopted.
Clearly Hemsworth was not the name he is now when they originally filmed RED DAWN as it has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. Neither was HUNGER GAMES star Josh Hutcherson. However, Chris is able to illicit a little bit of compassion and life to his character. The same cannot be said however to Hutcherson’s dopey wannabe hero. Aside from THOR, the only other actors that stand out are the Marines that show up in the second half of the movie. This includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan who gives a solid performance, he and his fellow freedom fighters inject a little machismo and humor into this tired retread. Sadly, they are hardly utilized at all.
First time director Dan Bradley (usually credited as a stunt coordinator) doesn’t have a whole lot to really work with. The script is filled with clichés and exposition, of course who knows how many changes the screenplay went through. The battle sequences are handled in typical fashion with jerky camera movements and tons of explosions going off. Aside from a slightly suspenseful sequence when the sky is filled with white parachutes landing on Washington state soil, there is very little that is remotely memorable here. Hell, even the main bad guy is a complete and utter joke. He has maybe two lines and is much too easily fooled by our heroes who we know as the “Wolverines” – their high school mascot.
To say that RED DAWN doesn’t work is an understatement. It isn’t necessarily a terrible film, just a painfully dull and mediocre one. Aside from a couple of reliable actors doing their job, the characters are interchangeable whether they are the good guys or the bad. Where this remake - or “reboot” as the press notes call it – went wrong is simply too difficult to comprehend. It lacks any sort of soul or fun, just explosions and dialogue that you can quote before you actually hear the line. This second-rate “reboot” is a dull, tired and unnecessary remake that you’ll forget by the end credits.