DVD Review: ‘Red Dawn’


Dan Bradley’s remake of John Milius’ culty Red Dawn (1985) finally made its way to UK shores in March of this year after being shelved due to financial reasons back in 2009. A testosterone-driven war film free of moral complications as a group of American teenagers are left alone to defend their homeland, 2012’s Red Dawn is an ill-advised, nationalistic and oddly dull remake of a film that was no great shakes to begin with. An already ridiculous premise is given a whole new lease of life thanks to a cast list that includes the now well-known faces of Thor’s Chris Hemsworth and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson.

We focus on a small cluster of popular, athletic adolescents-turned-guerilla militia, forced to take up arms if they’re to save their town from a sudden North Korean invasion (coming off the bench to replace Soviet Russia as America’s intimidating adversary). The fact that these occupying forces were changed in post-production from Chinese to Korean in order to gain access to the Chinese box office demonstrates the skewed political undertone of this irritatingly jingoistic tale. Eckert brothers Hemsworth and Josh Peck lead this uprising of the affectionately named ‘Wolverines’ as they take on an onslaught of anonymous North Korean grunts in a ‘valiant’ attempt to reclaim their beleaguered hometown.

Cheaply fashioned special effects and poor acting punctuate Red Dawn’s series of uninspired battle scenes that, whilst propelled with a sense of urgency and an amped-up soundtrack, lack any sense of coherence and excitement. As our rabble of protagonists waltzing through apparently ‘occupied’ streets with little danger of being caught or, indeed, executed, the fun that could have been had with such an outlandish premise is diminished by a complete lack of reality or emotional connect with any of these thinly drawn characters. By never revealing what our teenage cast are fighting for – other than their inherent freedom, under attack by faceless communists – Bradley’s rehash fails in rousing any sense of honour or camaraderie.

Red Dawn is little more than a smash-and-grab attempt at playing on wistful 1980s nostalgia, in the vain hope that the ridiculous heroics of Swayze and Sheen will reverberate with a contemporary audience. Yet, films driven on ideological paranoia appear too tasteless for this generation’s discerning pallets, with audiences slightly more refined, educated and demanding than those of three decades ago. Ultimately, Bradley’s dire action adventure is little more than a dull, unimaginative and utterly pointless remake.

Patrick Gamble

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