Back in 1984 in the late stages of the Cold War, the movie named “Red Dawn” was released. It starred several young actors and actresses who went on to a variety of success including Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, and Lea Thompson. The film follows a group of high school students who fight to defend their town, families, and country after an invasion of Soviet and Cuban forces occupies mainland America.
Despite being delayed for nearly 3 years due to financial issues, the new version of “Red Dawn” has arrived and also features an impressive young cast of future stars. Chris Hemsworth has gone on to find fame as Thor while Josh Hutcherson has found fame playing Peeta in “The Hunger Games”. The fact that this movie was filmed before either of those actors appeared in their signature roles allows the studio to now benefit from the increased name recognition of the cast.
Instead of a California town, the new film is set in Spokane, Washington where thanks to news clip segments at the beginning of the film, we understand that the country is involved in numerous conflicts around the globe and some question whether or not we have enough forces to secure our borders. Enter Jed Eckert (Hemsworth), who’s just returned home on leave after serving combat duty in the Middle East. His younger brother Matt (Josh Peck), is a quarterback at the local high school team and he bears resentment toward his brother for leaving shortly after the death of their mother. Their father is a well-respected member of the force and does his best to ensure harmony between the brothers as well as their local community.
The brothers are literally shaken awake by an airborne assault as North Korea lands troops throughout their community. Unsure what is happening, Jed, Matt, and several of their friends managed to escape into the wilderness and devise a plan for survival. Further complicating matters is the fact that Matt’s girlfriend Erica (Isabel Lucas), has been taken prisoner. Jed, with his military background quickly assumes control of the group, but Matt finds himself distracted from following orders and missions whenever he sees an opportunity to pursue Erica’s freedom.
The group calls itself “The Wolverines” after the local football team, and engages in a series of hit-and-run tactics against the invading forces. The plan is to make the occupation so costly that they will eventually give up. While they do have initial success, they soon realize that they are fighting against substantial odds not the least of which is their own internal conflicts and agendas as well as diminishing supplies.
When a recon group from the military under the command of Col. Andy Tanner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), arrives and tells the Wolverines about a device that may hold the key to their victory. The two sides must team up in an all-out assault on enemy headquarters in an effort to save the day.
While the film has plenty of action, the leaps of logic and common sense it requires the audience to take are astronomical. I understand that for a film of this type you must suspend a lot of reality in order for it to work. I’m not supposed asked questions about the logistics of the enemy’s plan and their actions. Suffice it to say that I could think of at least a dozen factors that were not brought into play. While the enemy may indeed have the ability to shut down various electronics and defensive capabilities which enabled the invasion. That does not explain where the military outside of the combat zone is, why our allies and remaining military are not dropping bombs and nukes on North Korea in retaliation, and scores of other inconsistencies. It is essentially left to our imaginations as to why this is not happening and we’re just supposed to accept on blind faith that there’s a good reason for this even though the recon unit manages to infiltrate Spokane in a helicopter and makes mentions of Missouri to Arizona as being free of any enemy influence.
The best thing I can say about the film said if you are willing to overlook the abundance of plot holes and logic gaps, as well as some at times stiff acting and dialogue, there are some enjoyable action seems to be found. The young cast works well with one another and often gave a very energetic and physical performance.
If you are a fan of the original, you may enjoy this film from a nostalgia standpoint, otherwise leave your common sense behind, sit back and enjoy the ride.
2.5 stars out of 5