RED DAWN: 1 ½ STARS
“Red Dawn,” starring Chris Hemsworth, Josh “The Hunger Games” Hutcherson and Connor Anthony Kidman Cruise (yes, he’s their son!), is contrived, silly and even just this side of racist–just like the original–but is it, like its fore-bearer, also so bad it’s good? Or is it just bad?
The new movie has a new set of bad guys and an updated cast of chisel jawed stars, but boiled down to its basics it’s a faithful remake of the 1984 film. The Russian communist hoards have been replaced by North Korean invaders and Chris “Thor” Hemsworth steps in for Patrick Swayze.
Set in Spokane, Washington the movie sees a ragtag group of rebels fight off the North Korean Army who have somehow managed to launch a surprise attack on the entire United States. “We inherited our freedom,” says Jed (Hemsworth), “now it’s up to us to fight for it.”
Released at the tail end of the Cold War, the first film was a fist-pumping all-American freak out; a violent tour de force guaranteed to make patriotic hearts swell with pride. A Red, White and Blue Dawn.
The new film wants to be the same kind of crowd pleaser, but it’s too talky-talky and not enough boom-boomy.
For a small militia up against a well organized, ruthless army they seem to spend a lot of time reminiscing and bonding. They talk and laugh, I suppose to give the audience a chance to get to know them, trouble is, not one of them is terribly interesting unless they ‘re shooting at or blowing up the enemy. When they’re not getting mushy they state the obvious, like, “We can’t just call 911,” which doesn’t even qualify as unintentionally funny. Worse, to say they are cardboard characters is an insult to the pulp and paper industry.
The fun of these kind of movies lies in the action scenes and the cheese-ball dialogue, and, to its credit the movie gets going in its last forty minutes. New characters are introduced, the North Koreans say things like “The vicious rodents are attacking!” and the relationship nonsense that bogged down the first half is replaced with the stuff you expect from a movie like this–explosions and good triumphing over evil.
By then, however, you almost hope the North Koreans take over, because they might be more interesting than the bland American stars.