Red Dawn

Even if you accept the preposterous high concept that a Communist coalition led by North Korea would actually invade and attempt to occupy the United States, “Red Dawn” will still find ways to make you question its logic.

“Red Dawn” gets into its teen “American Resistance” premise quickly. One night, there’s a blackout. The next morning, enough communist paratroopers to occupy Spokane. Somehow, our North Korean invaders were able to completely disable our armed forces’ response capability and land on American soil unmolested. They quickly set up occupation and begin broadcasting propaganda.

Meanwhile, a small handful of young people have taken to the hills, and begin to mount a resistance movement. Catching the North Korean occupiers unprepared, they’re able to capitalize on the element of surprise and engage in some successful raids. Upgrading their weaponry as they go, the Wolverines (named after their high school mascot) mount an effective campaign of harassment. Led by the Eckert brothers (Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck) and their respective romantic interests (Adrianne Palicki and Isabel Lucas), the small guerilla force makes quite a name for themselves. Eventually they’re sought out by the official resistance, represented by Lt. Col. Andy Tanner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It’s then they learn that the North Koreans were able to employ a new technological weapon that rendered our defenses inert, enabling them to march right in. The Wolverines, however, can strike a crippling blow… by stealing a box that holds the key to the technology.

My main (but certainly not my only) problem with “Red Dawn” is that I could not stop questioning the events I was seeing. I’m as happy as the next person to shut off my brain and enjoy a movie, but in this case, I found it impossible. Even if North Korea did simultaneously shut down all of our electronic weaponry, wouldn’t a wiser assault plan have been to concentrate their paratroopers in places where an armed resistance was most likely? Military bases and such? High population zones? What kind of a strategy would include occupying… suburbs and small cities immediately? If they’re going to set up interment camps, why were some people sent there and others allowed to roam the streets freely? Seriously, there’s a Subway open at one point (Woot! Product Placement! WOLVERINES!!). How did the evil Captain Cho know who their parents were? Why didn’t Cho send troops into the woods to scout for them, seeing as the Wolverines were giving him so much trouble? They were just completely safe whenever they hit the treeline. America has one of the most well armed populaces in the world, why were these kids the only ones shoo – – gah… alright, you get the idea. I could go on though, trust me.

In the 80s, during the cold war, this high concept was still laughable, but at least it was slightly more worthy of conjecture. Back then, there was very much a pervading “Us vs Them” air… so the question “What if THEY invaded?” was far more worthy of conjecture. Perhaps the film’s credibility wouldn’t have suffered so much if they had stuck with the Chinese. It’s doubtful that even then they could have gotten the magic “Disable All Military” box past audiences, but… oh well. Regardless, I was fully prepared to be content watching a bunch of photogenic young people shooting stuff and blowing things up, in spite of massive plot holes and logical incongruities. But in the third act, there’s a spoilerific WTF?! moment that I felt was totally unearned, and completely soured whatever grace I had been preparing to show this movie.

There’s little worth fighting for here people.


41 thoughts on “Red Dawn

  1. I was worried about just that, the original while far from high art still holds a place in my preteen movie HoF just because it was slightly plausible and heck finding picking up and using AKs and RPGs seemed sooooo much cooler then. I had somehow managed to miss that they had changed the occupying force over to the Koreans, that alone pretty much seals it’s fate for me, maybe catch it on cable.

  2. I knew it! haha! I do not like movies that pit America against a foreign enemy. It just sends the wrong message to audiences and establishes and promotes societal indifference. I know this may come as a surprise–but I seen the original and it sucked too. I was in my C. Thomas Howell phase after I seen “The Outsiders” and was like, what the heck?

    Great review!

    • Heh. I’m not going to defend the original any. I will say at least that movie had a great teen cast. A lot of those teens went on to be big stars. Here, outside of Hemsworth (who obviously is a big star) and maybe Palicki, there really isnt a lot to offer from the cast. 😦

      As for “The Wrong Message” though, Aidy, I do have to say I still fully support these movies’ message of “Dont you dare invade us, or we’ll send our high school football teams into the woods with guns”. There is nothing wrong with that, I’m totally behind it. 😀

  3. I was hoping it could be on par with the original. Oh Silly Dean… most remakes always will be pretty lousy.

    • Yeah, I dont know if this is totally “Cheap Knockoff” territory, I do think they tried here. Its just… I dont know, it didnt hold together well, and then they made this really bad choice towards the end taht I dont want to spoil….

      Its sitting at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. So… its not just me saying stay away. 😦

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Lamar.

  4. I remember the original in junior high. It led to a lot of stealthy running around campus with water guns, and lower grades for a while. Mostly because we were all pretty convinced the Soviets were actually going to get us. But for invasion movies of the Pacific Northwest, I’ll stick with the much more sensible, poignant, and funny The Russians Are Coming. Not this cheap nostalgia war porn.

    • Yeah, maybe. I wasn’t that angry or anything though. 😀 I just needed to convey how frustrating an experience it was, you know? “Why would they do this?” “How did they know that?” I couldnt stop the questions…

      Probably because the film kept doing so many “Questionable” things 😉

  5. Wait! What? It is supposed to be set in Spokane???? I saw a trailer and it didn’t look like the Spokane I grew up around. Spokane and the surrounding area has a pop. of over half a mill.

    • City 57.8 sq mi (151.6 km2)
    • Land 56.8 sq mi (149.6 km2)
    • Water 0.8 sq mi (2.0 km2) 1.3%
    Elevation 1,843 ft (562 m)
    Population (2011)city[1] metro[2]
    • City 210,103 (US: 102nd)
    • Density 3,387.0/sq mi (1,307.7/km2)
    • Metro 473,761 (US: 108th)
    • (combined) 614,893

    Nothing irritates me more than movies or shows set in the areas I know well and they get it totally wrong. Like the Walking Tall ‘remake’ set in Kitsap County, WA and they had sheriff vehicles in the background that said Snohomish on them. It wasn’t even an accident. It was filmed in Canada so they had to have put the wrong county name on the cars when prepping them for the film. Or when a show was set in Boise, ID and they say Boise was in Boise county as part of the dialogue in the show when it is in Ada county. Or when in the kids drive into a mine for ‘safety’ when the volcano is erupting in Dante’s Peak. Those mines have fault lines running through them and would be extremely unstable if there was a volcanic explosion there.

    Do they think people in the Northwest don’t have T.V.’s or watch movies.

    Sorry, this just hit a major, pet peeve, nerve with me.

    • Yes. Set in Spokane. I dont know about Spokane’s proximity to dense woods or anything, but if it’s pretty close to the wild then they didnt do too bad. It did seem about a mid size city with a suburban fringe.

      That said… to think that the North Koreans could mount the kind of invasion force that would allow for occupation of cities that size in the first wave of attack is kind of crazy. LOL. The military force they brought to bear was pretty small. A high school team COULD kick their ass. 😀

      That said, this movie would probably give you enough pet peeves to last a lifetime. Its that kind of flick. LOL

      • Spokane is set in a long prairie with short mountains on either side. These are forested, but also have a rather lot of people living in them. There is one BIG mountian near by. But it is rather heavily populated and leads up to a ski resort up top. So despite the forested areas, you can’t go to far without running into another house. Downtown Spokane is actually much bigger than downtown Omaha. Despite the fact that Omaha has twice the population (city only) and nearly 3 times the land area. The Spokane’s city and metro population is only a little less than Omaha’s.

        On the other note, when the first one came out, I found the idea of Russians suddenly landing inside the U.S. and taking over a city unbelievable. So thinking the North Koreans could do it is even MORE unbelievable. I just do not think they have enough MONEY to be able to fund such an invasion.

      • Yeah, by “acting,” I mean, “blow shit up and rock a decent haircut for once.”

        Or maybe every movie I watch for the next year will seem like rubbish compared to Skyfall. I’m jaded now. Grrrr…

      • Dont be mad Livi, at least you cracked me up. LOL.

        “blow shit up and rock a decent haircut for once.” made me laugh pretty good. 😀

        Let the Skyfallllll… When it crumblllllles.. 😀

  6. We will stand taaaaallllll…Face it all together….At Skyfall…

    Dear Lord, I must get a life before this film destroys me.

  7. Ahh, I’m still trying to find someone else who actually didn’t mind this movie, lol! XD

    Though I will say that most of the points you bring up actually hold value to them, which is something that I’ve found missing from several other sources that are tearing this movie to shreds. I had my own moments where I was questioning the events, but I eventually got into a good enough groove where I could just sit back and enjoy the film for it was. I had fun with it at least, heh.

    • LOL. I think I was saying that over on your blog about Rise of the Guardians, except in the other direction. LOL. Good luck!

      Listen, I know that zone you’re talking about Chris, and I want to get there. I really do. I just couldnt here. I couldnt let it go.

      And then (trying to avoid spoilers) they have that shocker towards the end that felt completely undeserved. LOL. Wound up being more of a WTF moment for me than anything else. 😦

  8. When is Hollywood going to learn that you can’t remake a film that’s tied to a very specific era? I had wondered how they were going to update this, considering Russia isn’t exactly the big scary neighbor they used to be, and hearing it’s North Korea is almost laughable all by itself. Hearing that it was going to be China but that they changed it in post-production (just read that in Sam’s review) is nothing short of hilarious.

    Even so, I could let that slide if the rest of it was done well. But it’s pretty clear from your review that it wasn’t. Ah well. I still need to refresh my memory on the original (one of those “lost to the fog of youth” films) but I’ll be skipping this one.

    • A wise decision.

      I was ready to let the whole “North Korea invades” angle slide, too, as long as it was fun… but the thing was there were just SO many holes I couldnt ignore them. New, stupid things kept popping up every five minutes… I just couldnt get past them.

      Not worth your time, man. 😦

  9. I put off reading your review until I had seen the movie and posted my own comments. You and I are simpatico on this film for so many reasons, N. Korea?, Subway? Why is the girlfriend being bussed around continuously for no reason? If you are starved for action it will do in a pinch, but it lacks the survivalist paranoia that made the original so much fun, and so relevant. Maybe a C- rather than a D because I liked the skateboard IED.

    • LOL. Sometimes its the little things 🙂

      I felt I was being generous sparing it from the “F” though, as it is. This is a movie that pretty much gave me a headache with its lack of believability. A really frustrating watch, in my opinion.

      I was ok with Hemsworth and Palicki, but aside from that, the entire rest of the movie should be scrapped. 😦

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