North Korea becomes our number one enemy in Red Dawn
The remake of ‘Red Dawn’ changes the villains from Russian to North Korean, but the Wolverines are still fighting to save the country.
It’s interesting coming into a remake of a cult classic movie without ever having seen the original. All I know about Red Dawn is that Patrick Swayze is in it and the Russians invade the US. And something about wolverines. That’s about it. So going into the new Red Dawn with a fresh perspective may be a better experience than having those memories of the original always on your mind.
This time around, I was wondering just who the “Reds” of the title were. Back in 1984, it wasn’t so far-fetched to have the Russians as an invading force, and despite recent political proclamations, I don’t think anyone would have bought the Russians again invading the country (although they are still a little politically shady). In this version, our real number one enemy is none other than North Korea … with the help of the Russians! See, I told you they were still shady. (And in the original version of the film that was to be released in 2010, the villains were actually the Chinese, but the flags were all digitally altered in the meantime to avoid angering them.)
As the film opens, war veteran Jed Eckert (pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) returns to his hometown of Spokane, Washington unannounced. There seems to be a lot of tension between him, his father (Brett Cullen) and little brother (Josh Peck), but we don’t really get too in depth with their characters before the invasion begins. The initial invasion is a pretty spectacular scene with thousands of paratroopers falling from the skies, and fighter jets roaring overhead. As the neighborhood panics, Jed and his brother Matt gather up a few friends and make their way to a cabin in the woods (not the same cabin in the woods that Hemsworth visited earlier this year, although that would have made for a pretty awesome mash-up movie), where a stranger they picked up along the way bolts in the middle of the night with all their food and returns with the North Koreans, the Ekerts’ dad and the mayor (who is also the father of one of the kids played by Connor Cruise). Jed tells them not to surrender, dad is killed, and the fight begins.
It’s probably a good thing the release of Red Dawn was held off until after the election (well, it’s also been in storage for at least two years due to original studio MGM’s bankruptcy) because it certainly could have been held up by the NRA as a tool of propaganda against those who supposedly want to repeal the 2nd amendment and take everyone’s guns. If that happened, how would we be able to fight these invaders, they might ask. So, I’m sure the film could end up being the new film of American patriotism, which is fine, but I’m glad they held off on the release date (as did DreamWorks with Lincoln) to avoid any real political statement during the election.
After the initial attack, which also supposedly left the power grid of the Pacific Northwest fried, the kids begin their stealth attacks and brand themselves the Wolverines, after the local high school football team. As their resistance grows, the enemy becomes desperate to shut them down and during the various attacks and deaths, you realize people keep talking about not having power or telephones and the one object the resistance wants is a case that the North Koreans use to communicate with each other … except the entire city is extremely well lit. There’s even a rally of sorts where the enemy says they are ready to restore power, while city lights blaze about them. I don’t know if I missed something or if the director just thought no one would notice all the lights, but I did find it a bit distracting.
But enough nit-picking. Red Dawn is actually a pretty entertaining action film with lots of stuff blowing up, lots and lots of guns, a group of home-grown heroes, and even a few Marines along for the ride. It’s hard to be too critical of a movie like this because all it wants to do is entertain, and it does that very well. The film also has a couple of very surprising moments that should leave viewers a little shaken, but having certain characters die or get left behind only adds to the realism of the situation. No one is safe. If you have fond memories of the original Red Dawn, I would wager that you’ll probably enjoy the new one. My friend who attended the screening with me considers the original one of his all-time favorite movies and he thought this one was even better. So there you go. Can’t have a better review than that!