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Red Dawn is probably the only remake in the history of film that sports a title that is less relevant to its subject matter than when it was originally used. I get it; red represents communism, but never have I heard North Koreans be called "reds" like the Soviet Union. China would've been more plausible, but when the filmmakers attempted to make the Chinese the invaders in this remake, they were outraged that a country they assisted for so long would go back and demonize them in a piece of patriotic propaganda. This spectacle makes me seriously wonder how we Americans are portrayed in foreign cinema.
If it's anything like how we've portrayed foreigners in our cinema, I would anticipate nothing but caricatures filled with enough greed and bigotry for an entire country. But back to the film at hand; Red Dawn is just what you'd expect of a film that remakes the 1984 film. The original film's values have been decreased to nothing more than a cult hit depicting one man's "what if?" thought stretched into a near two hour film. Here, we are greeted with more incredulity, soullessness, tiresome action sequences, and redundant explosions than in the first film, but we are robbed of the pleasant appearances of actors like Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, and Powers Boothe.
The film revolves around the town of Spokane, Washington, where Jed Eckhert (Chris Hemsworth), who served as a Marine for six years after the death of his mother, returns home to greet his father and football star brother Matt (Josh Peck), only to be disturbed by a power outage the same night Matt loses a big game. They awake in the morning to find North Korean paratroopers dropping to the ground and F-16s hurling through the sky, and quickly pursue their pickup truck to round up their teen neighbors, Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and Daryl (Connor Cruise) and proceed to hide out in a remote mountainous cabin that just so happens to shelter days worth of bullets, food, and other supplies just in case them North Koreans decide to drop in.
Washington soon turns into a battleground, and we learn from seconds of disjointed news footage that the United States government has lost all control of their country. Koreans have detained citizens, constructed concentration camps with large signs reading "YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE" rather quickly, have shot hundreds of innocent people, destroyed a number of buildings, and have begun establishing new world order, calling out corruption and greed as the United States' reason for failing (also stating they're the ones who will help us). Isn't it nice to have a leader tell you your country's system has failed as him and his men have done us the kindness of dropping onto our soil and killing a number of innocent men and women, while trapping the ones they've let live in detainment camps? But ththeir ways are better and more fair than ours. Trust them.
Whatever. It turns out Washington's fate rests in the hands of these brave teenagers, now calling themselves the "Wolverines," after their high school football team, as they prepare themselves, retrain their reflexes, build bombs, and blow the hell out of a lot of Korean soldiers in an effort to take back their homeland. What I wondered throughout the whole picture was what the hell the Korean military was thinking and what they tried to accomplish by invading the U.S.? The Korean population is not even a fifth of the United States', and I doubt all their citizens are part of this militia, so why would they try to apprehend and attack a country so much larger than them, and what was their main goal? Imperialistic greed? That would be an act of hypocrisy towards their new policy they are trying to implement. What plan could possibly involve detaining citizens, killing them, blowing up buildings, and plastering their flag all over the country while reminding them they're there in the population's best interest? And do not get me started on the abundance of action sequences that are choppily edited, haphazardly choreographed, and pathetically compiled together trying to resemble something of a coherency timeline. Ever play a Call of Duty game? Join an online match, turn the volume all the way up, begin playing, and have someone shake the TV in the process and you got the action scenes in Red Dawn.
Some will question whether or not this film improves over the 1984 cult hit and I will say in some cases it does. The tone is more serious and the invasion sequence is more suspenseful and a lot grittier than in the original picture. Both Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck have been in some great films (hell, what hasn't Hemsworth been in this year?), and this genre of guerrilla action has scarcely seen brighter days, but the remake of Red Dawn is just as redundant and as tedious as the original film, only at least the original film had a valid reason for existing.
NOTE: I find it amusing how this film has gone so far under the radar in terms of controversy when Larry Charles' The Dictator (released this same year) had so much criticism reflecting off of it and all it was was a raunchy satire, no more crude and raucous than such works as The Hangover: Part II or Project X. Considering which one is more realistic, although they both pack an incredulous resume, I'd expect to see Americans speaking poorly about a Red Dawn remake in the modern day; not rushing to see it.
NOTE II: Visit my blog to see an analysis of both Red Dawn films to see which one I feel is the better film, http://stevepulaski.blogspot.com
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Directed by: Dan Bradley.
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