Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise, Adrianne Palicki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan DIRECTED BY
Dan Bradley SCREENPLAY
John Milius (1984 Screenplay), Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore, Kevin Reynolds (Story) MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME
93 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
It's hard not to think that the same folks who thought that Tron really needed a remake are also responsible for the bizarre notion that the 1984 camp classic Red Dawn would really benefit from an update.
But, in all honesty, the two films have distinctly different crews. Actually, that's even more frightening. It's hard to fathom that there's really two different crews who've managed to equate cult classic with "needs a remake." Both films, the original Tron and the original Red Dawn, weren't even close to popular when they came out but managed to grow into a sort of cult phenomenon over 20+ years later. So, where Hollywood smells a buck it's going to try to make a buck and here we have a 2012 version of Red Dawn.
Kind of. Actually, the film has languished in the closet since being shot by Dan Bradley in 2009 thanks to the financial troubles of its original studio, MGM. Eventually, up-and-comer FilmDistrict got its hands on the film and its now seeing the light of day.
Red Dawn isn't a horrible film ... just an unnecessary one. The film is far more timid and less over-the-top than was John Milius's original film. Chris Hemsworth shot the film before leaping to fame, and while Patrick Swayze was no Shakespearean wonder thespian he certainly made for a more involving and compelling central lead. Hemsworth is more stoicism and bravado - and less interesting. He's joined by Josh Hutcherson, who does the best he can here, and by Josh Peck, whose best isn't nearly good enough.
This time around the North Koreans are the baddies, though that was changed from the Chinese prior to distribution. I can't help but picture Kim Jong-Un having a private screening of the film and writing down ideas in his notepad.
Of course, most will consider the entire set-up to be completely ludicrous. But, if we're being honest, it's pretty doubtful that Dan Bradley's going for much in the way of realism here. So, just go with it - the North Koreans invade and start off with an area near Spokane, Washington.
I have no freaking clue.
Bradley has a long history of Hollywood work as a stunt coordinator, and it's in the more low-tech areas that Red Dawn shines brightest. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are fairly decent, but Red Dawn really loses its grip just about anytime Bradley tries to incorporate equally low-tech special effects or when the mostly blue-collar cast tries to do anything resembling the showing of a genuine emotion. There's a couple of love interests, courtesy of fem thesps Isabel Lucas and Adrienne Palicki, but these aren't anything more than weak plot devices in a film filled with weak plot devices.
If you're the kind of person who thinks playing "Call of Duty" gives you a grasp on real war, then Red Dawn may very well be a satisfying experience for you. With its over-hyped bravado, laughably machismo dialogue and stilted performances, the film often feels like a high school acting class turned loose on a Hollywood studio.
In some weird way, I suppose, that's entertaining.