The release of the updated version of “Red Dawn” was pushed back over two years thanks to MGM’s financial issues. When a movie is put on the shelf for a long period of time, it usually isn’t a good sign; “The Cabin in the Woods” is an exception. “Skyfall” and “The Hobbit” were also affected, but production was mostly just delayed rather than being a finished product collecting dust. With how excellent “Skyfall” turned out to be and its massive box office in-take, expectations for “Red Dawn” were at least to be marginally decent. Well pucker up, sweet cheeks and rub some dirt on it. “Red Dawn” is so bad you’re going to have to lube yourself up before seeing it just to keep the crap that it spews at you from sticking to your greasy flesh.
Everything initially unfolds like all of the worst parts of the “Transformers” movies. Did you hate seeing Sam’s mom eat pot brownies in “Revenge of the Fallen?” Did you groan when Wheelie humped Megan Fox’s leg? Your face is about to have rug burn you’ll be facepalming so much. “Red Dawn” still manages to squeeze in all of these stupid teenage problems nobody cares about even amongst the invasion of North Korea in Spokane, Washington.
Matt Eckert (Josh Peck) costs his football team the game because he’s too busy trying to be a hero as the quarterback and then wonders why it eats at him after it’s all over. Then afterward, they all meet at a bar while Matt’s brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth) has just come home after being gone for six years in the military and reunites with Toni (Adrianne Palicki) and they reminisce about all of the making out and dating they didn’t do over the years. Then after everything hits the fan, Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and Daryl (Connor Cruise) rob a Subway while making the dumbest one-liners you’ve ever heard. Oh, they’re eating wheat bread? At least they’re eating healthy during an invasion. And look, Daryl is putting a bucket under the self-service soda dispenser. Guerrilla warfare has never felt this juvenile.
The entire movie is built around the Eckert family; Matt specifically. Josh Peck is one of the reasons the movie is so painful. He at least seemed more tolerable in “The Wackness,” but his Nickelodeon roots from his days on “The Amanda Show” and “Drake and Josh” seem to come back to haunt him now because you cannot take Matt seriously. He has that predictable back story to him; the hothead little brother overshadowed by his big brother that miraculously finds a way to overcome the odds. But Matt makes the dumbest decisions imaginable like risking the location of the only people not captured by the North Koreans just to save his girlfriend. Matt is just extremely stubborn and has that chip on his shoulder that just makes you want to slap the hell out of him.
This is the acting debut of Connor Cruise, but you can’t even really call it that. He has the same blank look on his face the entire movie and even the tears he sheds in the movie look like somebody threw a few drops of water on his face so he wouldn’t have to show any actual emotions.
In the meantime, you have to put up with this forced patriotic B.S. “These people invaded our home and we have to FIGHT because we live here.” That’s the bottom line of the speech Chris Hemsworth gives to win over the entire group. Just about every big moment can be seen coming way ahead of time. The camera work gets on your nerves, too. It’s one of those movies that insist on the camera always moving and making everything really difficult for your brain to process whenever gunfire, explosions, or any sort of action takes place.
Everything that is said and that occurs in “Red Dawn” will leave you snickering and rolling your eyes because it is so bad. The Eckert family has a pickup truck that can drive through barricades and over fire. Josh Peck seems to channel Shia LaBeouf throughout the entire movie (“Come on!”) and the ending will leave you wondering when Matt had the time to memorize or write down what he says. Josh Hutcherson drinks fresh deer blood and that is the highlight of his character. No one in the movie ever doesn’t feel like filler.
Without ever seeing the original film, it’s difficult to say how “Red Dawn” compares but the 1984 film cannot be this bad. “Red Dawn” is like the cinematic equivalent of burping and having a little bit of barf emerge at the back of your throat. Then your esophagus burns as you swallow the disgusting liquid. That aftertaste that makes you stick out your tongue, curl your lip, and stings your nostrils, that’s “Red Dawn.” You’ll want to strap yourself into one of the vehicles with a car bomb attached to it just to get out of finishing the stupid thing.