It’s no better or worse than the 1984 version. Red Dawn is a remake of that classic John Milius directed ‘80’s film that starred Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson and Patrick Swayze. I might hold out that the original was slightly better for nostalgic reasons.
The Story: Just like the original, America is invaded by a communist country only it’s North Korea with help from Russia. The major cities are destroyed by nuclear weapons and the next-size cities are invaded to keep rebel armies from forming. There’s an unlikely contingent in this town as a team of teens calling themselves Wolverines, named after their football team, are led by former Iraq War veteran Jed played by Chris Hemsworth in an important attempt to prevent total foreign domination.
The Goods: We get into the action quickly with realistic computer graphics that create a huge, ominous sky full of paratroopers landing in the small town of Spokane, Washington. Explosions rock the kids out of bed and suddenly they’re jumping in Jed’s pick-up and heading for the hills. Even if it means leaving parents behind (which was part of the teen success from the ‘80’s). The kids, boys and girls—and by kids I mean older looking teens like teen films from the ‘70’s—find a way to get weapons and mount small attacks one after another until Jed’s younger brother Josh (Matt Eckert) can save his girlfriend (Isabel Lucas, Transformers 2 (2009)) from captivity. The short battles get bigger and more frequent until a small number of real Marines step in to help with the fight. All of the action is covered in state of the art Hollywood action-style filmmaking that is on par with any summer blockbuster.
The Flaws: But there’s no real story conclusion here, just like the original, only a closing summary that suggests that Americans like the ones portrayed here will never give up. Unfotunately if leaves some of the character arcs here light in completion and somewhat more cliché. It also leaves audiences short of a total cathartic experience. That’s not to say the movie is not fun most of the time. One of the problems too is that MGM might be paving the way for a Red Dawn franchise.
The Call: Spend the ten for some mindless popcorn action. At the very least you’ll get some decent combat and a lot of patriotism.