Today's Paper Latest stories Most commented Drivetime Mahatma 🏈 HS scoreboard Obits Traffic Newsletters Weather Puzzles + games
story.lead_photo.caption Wolverines assemble! Jed (Chris Hemsworth), Matt (Josh Peck), Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and Daryl (Connor Cruise) form the resistance in Red Dawn, Dan Bradley’s remake of the 1984 John Milius film.

— In the immediate aftermath of a particularly grisly presidential election season - one that saw red and blue states bloodied and battered in the process - you’ll be glad to hear Hollywood thinks they’ve found a potent healing balm. They’ve determined what this country really needs to restore our faith in one another is a good ol’ jingo party beat-down flick, even if it’s in the form of a remake of Red Dawn, a John Milius piece of claptrap from 1984.

"Let me go for it, coach!"

Red Dawn features Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Schlereth. (By Film District)
[View Full-Size]

The basic premise concerns an invasion of a foreign army into the stately Washington city of Spokane, and the group of young people who escape and raise havoc for the invading army with a ragtag guerrilla force known as the “Wolverines.”

There’s one minor problem, however: In the original, as you might ascertain from the title, the invading hordes are from the Soviet Union, so what nefarious nation could be a suitable stand in for the Rooskies? The choice here is North Korea, somehow still backed by the Russians - not so fast, Ivan! - but that’s only because a Middle Eastern terrorist super-cell wouldn’t ever try to build a fort out of a high school football stadium.

Led by Jed (Chris Hemsworth), a charismatic Marine on leave, and his more immature younger brother, Matt (Josh Peck), the group also includes, among others, Robert (Josh Hutcherson), a techno-nerd who learns in the course of things how to kill a deer and build a bomb trigger; Daryl(Connor Cruise), Robert’s equally geeky best friend; and Erica and Toni, beautiful love interests for Jed and Matt (Isabel Lucas and Adrianne Palicki, respectively). The squadron trains out in the woods and infiltrates the enemy strongholds seemingly at will, shooting up the place, blowing up things, and consistently evading capture, to the growing consternation of Capt. Lo (Will Yun Lee), who begins to feel the heat from his higher-ups.

The film is essentially a fantasy for fervent Second Amendment true believers, filled with scenes of Americans kicking rear ends and fighting for their freedom, even as the writers seek desperately to avoid having to answer many of the obvious questions this invasion might suggest - such as how a giant military force from North Korea ever made it to American shores without any detection whatsoever (we’re vaguely told of a giant super-weapon electric-pulse device that shut down all the nation’s computers); where the standing military forces are in all of this fracas (a small contingent of Marines eventually comes into the picture but only after weeks and weeks have passed); and, frankly, what the North Koreans hope to gain from their clearly suicidal mission in the first place. Do they want our natural resources? Our women? Exclusive access to our Wal-Mart Supercenters?

Save max-villain Capt. Lo, none of the other evil North Koreans are given enough screen time to make much of an impression. They are a nameless, faceless enemy, with no particular agenda, and a complete inability to shoot straight when attacked by a group of freedom-fighter teens.

Worse yet, the film falls prey to the most standard lexicon of action-movie motifs: The team survives intact through hails of gunfire, strafing and bombing; a group of teenage bumblers is somehow transformed into an elite fighting force in a matter of days; the team is always on hand at the perfect moment to save worthy Americans; and the few minority members of the crew are the first to go down when things get really rough.

It also doesn’t help that beyond the untouchably charismatic Hemsworth (actually an Aussie, but who’s counting?) and the dutiful Hutcherson (who has had plenty of practice running through the woods being pursued by enemies recently), the cast is pretty much unconvincing, none worse than the ever smirking Peck, whose dark, weaselly countenance brings to mind a dislikable character from an entirely different movie and is about as credible as a brother to the blonde, big shouldered Hemsworth as Desi Arnaz.

Still, I suspect the director, Dan Bradley - known before this excursion primarily as a well-regarded stuntman - and his production staff know all too well the types of folks whom this little war fantasy might appeal to, and they shamelessly play to their expected audience. As Jed first assembles his ragtag troops, he galvanizes them with an ode to homesteaders everywhere: “This isn’t just some place for us,” he intones with fury. “This is our home.”

And who knows? Maybe the real message here is that the only way this country will ever be united again is if a foreign aggressor comes here and tries to take all of our stuff. The sad truth is, they’re probably on the right track.

Red Dawn 79


Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise, Isabel Lucas, Adrianne Palicki, Will Yun Lee


Dan Bradley



Running time:

114 minutes

MovieStyle, Pages 30 on 11/23/2012

Print Headline: Star-spangled baloney/Red Dawn remake is even more outlandish warrior fantasy than original

Sponsor Content


You must be signed in to post comments
  • MikeDearmond
    November 23, 2012 at 11:10 a.m.

    Yamamoto was pragmatic and having lived in the US he did not have "rose colored leses" about US capabilities, our psyche, and our values. He knew a surprise attack would galvanize the US population, would enrage the US populace, and while it would (hopefully) smash the US Pacific fleet, that US industrial capacity would replace whatever was lost in short order.

    (from what I have read, and this is from memory - so if I get something wrong speak up)

    The idea was floated to invade the mainland US. Now, the exact details I don't know, but maybe it was to hold the US cities hostage, maybe toss in Hawaii too - but they knew they could not invade and hold onto US territory as a permanent possession.

    They could however extort the US to stay out of the Pacific, and maybe even extort the oil, steel, and aluminum that the US had embargoed due to Japan having invaded China.

    Yamamoto counseled against this. His famous quote was:
    "You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."

    Of course the Japanese high command was horrified. But, not in the way you think: remember that in Japan only the Army and Samurai classes were allowed to have weapons. This was a long held tradition in Japan. The "peasants" were NOT allowed weapons. Such is why nun chucks and other "home made" weapons were invented. Nun Chucks were actually used for farming, and then later became weapons.

    But, I digress.

    The Japanese viewed the US freedom of privately owned weapons as an insane idea : after all theirs was an orderly and controlled society.

    So - yes, the story is true - the US was not invaded because of the 2nd Amendment.

    Those that scoff at this idea need to remember that Japan was a formidable world power with a battle hardened army, a seasoned navy with a good leadership. The US, while having a good industrial base, was largely an agrarian society with a small underfunded armed forces.

    But, facing off against a country with a population with 130 million, of whom 20-40 million were armed was not something the Japanese wanted.

    Oh, and to those who say the 2nd Amendment is silly in today's modern time - realize that Japan had aircraft carriers, radios, aircraft, machine guns, mortars, artillery, bombers, a well trained battle staff and a will to conduct a brutal form of warfare - and Japan analyzed the US mainland as a target, even a limited target for grabbing cities to ransom, and gave the operation a complete pass.

  • BHirsh
    November 23, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.

    While I agree that this remake was unneccesary, and that the original absolutely hit the nail on the head, I am annoyed by the condescension at its base message - that an armed populace can cause real havoc to any designs against would-be conquerors and internal tyrannical machinations.

    The fact is that while odds are pretty tall that average citizens could defeat professional armies (*cough-cough* see: The American Revolution), the prospect of uncooperative victims of such designs inflicting death and injury on the perpetrators is the best deterrent Natrual Law provides.

    And that principle is lost on lefty skeptics. Until it is THEM in the citizens' gunsights......