Was anybody out there clamoring for a remake of “Red Dawn”? Show of hands? Anybody?
Didn’t think so.
The original is a movie of its time, an artifact of the Reagan era and the dying days of the Cold War. Released in 1984 before the fall of the Berlin Wall and at a time when the Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua was fresh in the U.S. consciousness, writer-director John Milius’ right-wing fever dream about a Cuban-Soviet invasion of the United States, where a group of small-town Colorado teens led by Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen form a guerrilla band to resist the commie invaders, had a certain loopy resonance with the zeitgeist of those days.
But now? Not so much.
In the age of al-Qaida and the drone war, it’s hard to see how a movie about a North Korean invasion of the U.S. (with Russian help) ever got a green light by the geniuses who run Hollywood.
Oh, wait. When it was originally conceived and made, it was about a Chinese invasion of the U.S. But then it dawned on those geniuses that China is a big and growing market for U.S. movies. Probably not a good idea to honk that market off.
Luckily (in a weird way) MGM, the studio that made the thing, got into so much financial trouble that the movie, made in 2009, had to be shelved for several years.
While that highly publicized mess was being untangled, the makers rewrote and digitally reworked footage to convert the invaders to North Koreans.
Big whoop. It’s still a nonsensical picture.
Think of it as a kiddie version of “The Expendables.” It’s all about the boom-boom.
A group of high-schoolers from Spokane (Michigan stands in for Washington), under the leadership of the Marine brother of one of them (Chris Hemsworth), hide in the woods, arm themselves with rifles and later automatic weapons, and shoot the living daylights out of scores of Korean soldiers who obligingly serve as sitting-duck targets for the kids.
The original has fairly well-defined characters. In this new version, the kids are ciphers. The ending of the original is grim; this new version literally waves the flag. Empty patriotism in an empty-headed movie. ‘RED DAWN’
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki and Isabel Lucas
Director: Dan Bradley
Running time: 1:54
Rated: PG-13; violence, language