There has been an enormous amount of remakes in Hollywood over the last few years, and Red Dawn has been lost in the confusion. Originally slated to come out in 2010, the movie was delayed because of MGM’s financial woes and was almost sold off on a few occasions. This is a movie that I was on the fence about because the original was far from a classic and no one was really clamoring for a remake of it. But it did have Chris Hemsworth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in it, so I was willing to give it a chance.
The remake of Red Dawn tells the same basic story, with the North Korean army replacing the Cubans and Russians from the original. We follow brothers Jed (Chris Hemsworth) and Matt(Josh Peck) as they try and liberate their town with the help of other teenagers, coming to be known as The Wolverines. They use guerrilla tactics to try and drive the North Koreans from their town and hope there are other people fighting like them across the US.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Hemsworth are really the only two things to be recommended in this movie. Morgan lends credibility to any role that he is in and is good as a Marine that comes to help out the Wolverines. He provides some much needed humor and clarity to the events that have been unfolding through the film. Hemsworth gives an amazingly charismatic performance as Jed, the leader of The Wolverines. He commands your attention in every scene that he is in and seems to be the only actor in the movie that had any clue of how to handle an action scene. Adrienne Palicki also provides some eye candy in this testosterone-fueled action movie and she is always great to look at.
This movie leaves a lot to be desired in the acting department. All of the performances in the movie besides Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Hemsworth are pretty piss poor. Josh Peck does his best Hayden Christensen impression throughout the entire movie by acting as wooden as possible. He has almost no ability in relaying emotion and is just horrible. The rest of the cast isn’t much better with Connor Cruise, Isabel Lucas, and Josh Hutcherson being dreadful as well. The producers and casting directors really went all out in remaking this movie, because the horrible acting from the original was recreated perfectly in the remake.
Since the movie was originally filmed to have the Chinese be the antagonists and then switched to the North Koreans, there was a huge hole in the story. There is no explanation given as to how the whole situation came to be or how the North Koreans could possibly stage a surprise invasion of the US. In the original at least they gave you the circumstances that could lead to an invasion in the opening credits; in the remake you get next to nothing.
There is also the explanation that the North Koreans used a new EMP to knock out our defenses and render us helpless, yet cars are still able to function, there is power, and cell phones still power up. EMPs would generally kill all electronic devices and electrical grids, but you can’t have an exciting movie without power, cars, and cell phones, right? Also the North Koreans created a closed circuit communication system that only they could think up and were impervious to an EMP blast. At least the original tried crafting a story that seemed plausible; the remake was just a hole-filled train wreck of a story. Also forgot to mention that we are supposed to believe that Josh Peck is a star quarterback; I laughed out loud in the theater at that one.
The action and special effects should be a focus for a movie like this, right? Looks like someone messed up and forgot to remind the director and the producers. The fact that all of the Chinese Army patches had to be covered with North Korean patches is something that I could accept if they were done correctly, but they look terrible and stand out way too much. The special effects are B-movie quality at best, and the scene where you see troop parachuting in looks especially terrible, like something done in the late 90s. The action isn’t much better with most of it consisting solely of large explosions. The limited amount of firefights were standard fare and are not really thrilling or exciting. The lone fight sequence in the movie between Chris Hemsworth and Will Yun Lee was passable at best. After seeing the action and special effects it was no wonder why MGM was in no particular rush to put this in theaters.
This movie is wooden, just like the acting of most of the cast. It’s a really bad sign when a remake of a mediocre movie ends up being worse than the original, and that is what you get with the 2012 version of Red Dawn. Good luck, if you decide to see this movie.
Take a Drink: every time Josh Peck oversells an emotion.
Take a Drink: every time “the briefcase” is mentioned.
Take a Drink: whenever you hear “Wolverines”.
There are no additional scenes in or after the credits.