Movie Review: “Red Dawn”- Buy War Bonds!

Written by Tommy December 06, 2012


Alright so right away let me get one thing straight: there are two halves to this review. One half is where I talk about it as a film and the other is where I talk about it as art. The “film” half deals with the story structure, performances,and basically if the movie is actually good. The “art” half deals with what it actually says through its story. Alright so now on to the review: “Red Dawn” sucks hard. As art it is horrible fear-mongering that is the equivalent of taking a look inside Ronald Reagan’s brain, “Inception” style.

If you’re like me and are too cool to see the original, the plot is like this: In a totally realistic and feasible alternate future, North Korea and a bunch of other scary foreigners decide, for no reason at all, to invade America, and specifically attack the incredibly important suburbs of some town near Seattle. Some teenagers form a resistance group to fight back.

Finally, a new ethnicity to demonize!

Alright so let’s get started with the obvious part: Yes, the North Koreans in “Red Dawn” are depicted as totally evil and lacking any kind of humanity.They butcher people for no reason, and go way WAY out of their way to murder the teenage main cast, again for no reason (they are obsessed with killing teenagers even before the whole “wolverines” resistance movement happens.) In fact, so great is their lust for death, that one soldier opens fire on civilians while he’s dropping down on his parachute. I know it’s a “dumb action movie”  so that makes it okay for the villains to be cartoonishly evil, but it’s Not Cool to do that to a visible, already maligned minority in America.  Of course, the movie tries to skirt around this by having a heroic Korean character to represent “one of the good ones”, but he has three lines total and utterly fails at cancelling out the pure distilled Cold War era “othering: and fear-mongering that this movie pours into your eyes.

Chris Hemsworth doesn’t even take his shirt off.

As an actual action film, “Red Dawn” is not great. I’d say it’s just a tick or two below mediocre. The plot moves from conflict to conflict fairly quickly, and there’s a good escalation of events, except of course for the fact the climax comes out of nowhere. The incident that starts the climax literally just shows up from no where. But who cares? The point is “Red Dawn” gets right down to it. You get North Koreans about fifteen minutes into the movie, and there’s very little downtime afterwards. Unfortunately, the actual action scenes themselves are standard shaky-cam messes. It gets way out of hand sometimes. There is one scene where certain minor characters get off’d, and it is almost impossible to tell who they are, and what exactly happened to them. You only realize they are dead when it cuts to the next scene and everyone is mourning them.

Not that it really matters, every character except Hemsworth and Josh Peck barely have any characterization done to them anyway. They aren’t even stereotypes! They’re nothing! Well, except for the “comic relief” I guess, but even then it’s weak. The point is, you give absolutely don’t care when any of them die. I will give the film credit though, it does surprise you with a certain thing at the end. The thing itself isn’t surprising, since it pretty much had to happen from a story point of view, but the way they do it caught me off guard.

Womp womp.

How could Josh Peck fall from “Drake and Josh” to this?

As far as performances go, there’s pretty much nothing to talk about. Chris Hemsworth is supposed to be like a no-nonsense take charge kind of guy, but he just acts like some asshole bully. Josh Peck is just kind of blah. His attempt at being the “devil may-care loose cannon” type  comes off as being a whiny loser. Jeffery Dean Morgan’s small role is mildly entertaining but that’s really all there is to the performances in this.

I know there’s probably someone saying that this is actually a very subtle satire, comparing the North Koreans invasion of America to the War in Iraq or something, and there’s actually some basis for that. Hemsworth’s character points out the similarities between their resistance and Hezbollah and other insurgent groups. However, in the very next line, he says that “this time we are the bad guys”, creating a narrative of “oh it’s okay when we do this stuff!” and that sucks hard. Even if you can get by the abhorrent message of the film, the actual action is lame, the characters stink out loud, and there’s just nothing here to interest anyone. Don’t watch it.

My Rating: 4/10

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What a Cool Guy.

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