The Chinese Koreans are invading, the Chinese Koreans are invading! Red Dawn, the remake of the kick you in the balls while your down, 80s film of the same name, has a lot of problems. The pacing is off, the story is thin, paper thin and the action is flashy, yet feels confined. Still, with all these problems, I can’t say I truly felt like it was a bad film, scratch that, lackluster film is perhaps a better way of putting it. Let’s get this review down on paper and see how things pan out come the end…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.
No real parachutes here, just all CGI.
I’m not sure if everyone knows the story behind the Red Dawn remake, but if you haven’t heard, let me catch you up on a few things. The original plan for the film was the have the Chinese be the ones invading U.S.A. After realizing that China is pretty much where everything is made and where all the money comes from, the producers decided that it was probably best to not piss them off and changed the enemy to be North Korea, you know the people that actually do hate the U.S.A and pretty much every other place. The film was almost complete, so they had to go back and digitally replace anything Chinese with North Korean, re shoot a new opening and anything else that may remind us of China. The decisions to do this actually made this movie even more like the video game Homefront, with the latter also changing it’s enemies from China to North Korea and providing a very similar plot on how they would invade. Does this change hurt the movie? Not really, as bad guys are bad guys and of course the films decides to do the inevitable and have those sneaky Russians be the reason behind most of what’s happening (how cliche can you get).
Who are these people?!? No seriously, who are they?
Okay, enough about the behind the scenes stuff, what about the actual movie. It stars Chris Hemsworth, as Jed Eckert and follows him and his brother, Matt, along with a rag tag group of teenagers (unlike the original, I know none of the actors, save for a face or two), as they band together and stand up against the invading forces in the city of Spokane, Washington (gone is the Everytown, USA setting). The film moves along at a quick pace and doesn’t spend much time building up characters, or explaining any reason why things are happening. Just, they hate us and want to take over and oh yeah, can’t forget Russians are involved. Jeffery Dean Morgan shows up for a few scenes, playing the character original portrayed by Powers Booth, Tanner. It’s basically a walk on role and provides nothing substantial to the plot, except for the fact that he has a helicopter and I have no idea how he was able to fly it around, in what is now known as Korean airspace. Anyway, moving along.
I mentioned earlier that Red Dawn was somewhat enjoyable and it is. The action can be exciting at times and there are moments in the movie which will surprise and keep you on the edge of your seat; plus, it never once feels slow. Still, having only action and no real plot substance does not a great movie make. Red Dawn is missing something the original had, it’s missing the heart and soul of a film that will be remembered for a life time. Soon to be forgotten thanks to a forgettable plot, forgettable characters (the films weakest link, lack of character development) and a decision to neuter the raw and tragic feeling of the original. Also, that “huzzah, America!” ending has really got to go, in favor of a more grounded and actual plausible one. All said and done, Red Dawn deserves to be seen once and then forgotten about.