“Red Dawn” (trailer below) is a poor excuse for an action flick, but still manages to find ways to entertain the audiences. While suffering from a preposterous story, bad acting, dull dialogue, mediocre action scenes, and horrible cinematography it still manages to find a way to keep you from looking at your watch hoping for the end. Much like “Snakes on a Plane” this is one of those “so bad it’s good” type of experiences, but is it worth seeing in theaters?
In this re-imaging of the 1984 Patrick Swayze starer by the same name we see the story shift from an invading Soviet Russia to an invading North Korea (who is being helped by a nation I can’t spoil). Spokane, Washington becomes the initial target of the invasion, and while under enemy occupation, the town’s citizens are taken prisoner. After watching family and friends killed, group of young people, calling themselves ‘The Wolverines’ (after their high school mascot), band together in the surrounding woods. It is here that they train and organize themselves into a group of guerrilla fighters in order to liberate their town.
As ridiculous as the idea is that USA could be invaded by such a small country they really tried their hardest to sell it. Throughout the story you learn piece by piece how it was able to happen, and even though we know it really isn’t possible they do a sufficient job helping you suspend the disbelief. Add to that that Chris Hemsworth’s character (he is one of the highlights in the film) is a convincing leader of the ragtag band of misfits. His character’s Marine Corps. experience helps you believe that he could actually lead and train these kids to become decent warriors, but it gets to the point where the fine line between suspending belief and being ridiculous is crossed. Somehow these kids with a week or two of training are able to out think and out gun professionally trained soldiers. I was surprised with a few moments in this that caught me off guard, and people that have seen the original will notice a couple big changes to the characters and story that help it feel fresh.
The acting in this film is sub-par at best with only two notable exceptions: Chris Hemsworth (“The Avengers”) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (TV’s “Supernatural”). Hemsworth is becoming a very talented guy, and he owns the role of the tough guy. He is the greatest asset that “Red Dawn” had, and they were wise to use him in just about every scene. Jeffrey Dean Morgan definitely held his own against Hemsworth as Lt. Col. Andy Tanner, and brought some much needed comedic relief. I really love every role this man has had, but he definitely didn’t need this box office disaster to be on his filmography. Everyone else was sub-par except for Josh Peck (who played younger brother Matt Eckert) who was just horrendous. Everyone line that he painstakingly delivered in a monotone fashion just killed me a little inside.
While the story is fun (albeit ridiculous), because it is always great to see kids getting the upper-hand on adults (a la “Home Alone”), the piss poor action choreography mixed with the shaky camera almost ruins the little bit of enjoyment. There are scenes where you see these kids shooting AK47s one handed with no recoil, or scenes where you can tell they are shaking the gun to simulate recoil and aren’t even aiming but hit every bad guy. On top of that the hand-to-hand combat scenes were ruined Michael Bay style by zooming in close and shaking the camera wildly. In the close combat scenes it is hard to tell who is winning and who is losing until someone actually dies. However, there are a few action moments that work well, and gave me that “Hell Yea” feeling.
While I haven’t seen the original “Red Dawn” the people I saw the new one with informed me that the new one is actually better. If that’s the case then I never intend to see the original. I am a fan of films that tend to be ridiculous and absurd (I really enjoyed “Snakes on a Plane”), but I can only take so much, and this one crossed the line. From the sub-par acting, to the horrible cinematography, and even to the unrealistic action scenes (with exception to a couple awesome moments) the “Red Dawn” remake is definitely something better seen at home or on cable (I’m sure FX well show it in a few years). There are plenty of better options for what you should watch instead of this so if you never get around to catching it don’t feel bad. The enjoyable parts are heavily outweighed by the negatives, and even the most patriotic of people wouldn’t be able to take all the “AMURRICA” feelings the producers tried to generate. 2/5
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