When North Korea invades the US, Jed (Chris Hemsworth) and his friends form a resistance group – called the Wolverines (named after the high school football team) – to try and take down the occupying forces from the inside.
This is an interesting time to release Red Dawn. Not only are tensions running high around the world – with revolutions in Syria and Egypt – but the Iraq War and its fallout is still fairly fresh in our collective minds. Why, therefore, release a film in which the Americans become the terrorists, fighting against a force that is invading their land? There has to be more to this than just a remake, doesn’t there?
The stars of the film are Chris Hemsworth, Connor Cruise, Adrienne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson and Josh Peck. While it is true that Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore’s screenplay does not allow for much range in terms of acting, some manage it better than others. In fact, some of the acting is so bad that it is genuinely laughable and it is a relief when the film gets back to cheesiness and shootouts. Thankfully, we have Chris Hemsworth to bring some brooding seriousness to the film, and he manages the mix of action and emotion rather nicely. Adrienne Palicki does fairly well too, even though she plays a watered down version of her character from Friday Night Lights, or perhaps, because of that.
Shootouts from the main bulk of Red Dawn, and it is only when the film moves away from these and tries to inject character into the plot that it all goes awry. As the Wolverines wreak havoc on the invading forces, their enthusiasm is actually borderline endearing. That said, attention being drawn to US military exploits of recent years does shed a different light on the film.
Red Dawn marks the directorial debut for Dan Bradley, who is known for his stunt work and as a second unit director. There is little doubt that Bradley plays to his strengths here, but this is the problem; anything that could have made the film feel wholly fleshed out is mishandled, but the action sequences are actually a lot of fun. Since the film is mainly made up of action – largely in the form of explosions and shootouts – it is a good job these sequences are fun.
Red Dawn is not going to further anyone’s career as a serious actor, but when it boils down to it, the questionable dialogue, the flag waving and the stirring voiceovers make for a cheesy but wholly enjoyable film. Red Dawn takes a formula we have seen before and, while the film does not do anything new with it, it does end up being fun.