The remake of Red Dawn replaces the Cold War jingoism of John Milius’s isolationist fantasy with the smug survivalism of teens weaned on Call of Duty. When North Korean soldiers invade their hometown, Matt Eckert (Josh Peck) and his friends fall in line behind Marine big brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth), who transforms them into formidable guerilla fighters. Director Dan Bradley makes this Red Dawn more violent and simplistic, opting for heart-pounding action over disquietude and introspection. When Jed employs insurgent tactics, he describes it in role-playing terms (good guys versus bad guys) and expresses no ambivalence about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, where he’s stationed. (Red Dawn was shot in 2009.) Even without comparing it to the 1984 original, this combat film is rife with missed opportunities. The opening emphasizes the political and economic instabilities of 2012, but when the invaders were changed from Chinese to North Korean in post-production, Red Dawn lost its bite. An internment camp made from the same shipping containers that bring goods from China shows what this film might have been. Instead of expressing our contemporary fears, Red Dawn feels like a video game where nothing’s at stake and rewards are few and far between.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on November 21, 2012
Originally appeared in Indiewire.