×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Red Dawn

Helmer Dan Bradley's long-delayed remake of John Milius' 1984 kids-vs.-Commies adventure delivers enough thrilling action sequences and rock-'em, sock-'em fantasy-fulfillment to amp its B.O. potential.

With:
Jed Eckert - Chris Hemsworth
Matt Eckert - Josh Peck
Robert Kitner - Josh Hutcherson
Toni Walsh - Adrianne Palicki
Erica Martin - Isabel Lucas
Daryl Jenkins - Connor Cruise
Danny - Edwin Hodge
Tom Eckert - Brett Cullen
Julie - Alyssa Diaz
Capt. Cho - Will Yun Lee
Tanner - Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Smith - Kenneth Choi

Despite the considerable impediment of a premise arguably even sillier than that of the original “Red Dawn,” helmer Dan Bradley’s long-delayed remake of John Milius’ 1984 kids-vs.-Commies adventure delivers enough thrilling action sequences and rock-’em, sock-’em fantasy-fulfillment to amp its B.O. potential. Of course, considering the near-deafening negative buzz generated during its extended post-production period, the pic might elicit muted praise from critics as well as ticketbuyers simply for not living down to expectations. FilmDistrict plans a Nov. 21 release, though it’s amusing to ponder its potential political and pop-cultural impact were it released before Election Day.

Much like the ’84 pic co-written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds (and duly credited as inspiration in the opening credits here), the remake depicts the heroic exploits of teen resistance fighters after their community is invaded by an occupying force. In this version of the story, the community is Spokane, Wash., not a Colorado hamlet, and the invaders aren’t Cold War-era Soviet troops, but … well, something else.

For the benefit of those who tuned in late: China was depicted as the aggressor when this “Red Dawn” was shot in 2009. But after MGM, its original distributor, declared bankruptcy, the producers opted to make the pic more appealing to other distribs (particularly those wary of offending Chinese government officials) by refilming scenes, relooping dialogue and digitally altering flags and military insignia to transform the bad guys into war-mongering North Koreans.

Even so, it should be noted that the pic sporadically indicates that, somehow, Russians also are involved in the invasion. Judging by what’s shown and said here, however, China isn’t merely a non-issue; it doesn’t exist.

Despite the change — or to be more precise, changes — to the nationality of the occupying army, it’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do-or-die as outgunned and outnumbered partisans take their best shots during an urban guerrilla campaign against the enemy.

Led by the slightly older Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), a newly returned Iraq War veteran, the teen commandos commandeer the name Wolverines from their high-school football team — a plot point considerably more significant in the original — and repeatedly return to Spokane from their woodland camp to carry out sabotage and assassination missions.

The young warriors — including Matt (Josh Peck), Jed’s impetuous younger brother; Toni (Adrianne Palicki), a tough fighter who’s conspicuously sweet on Jed; and Daryl (Connor Cruise), who’s distraught to see his dad, the Spokane mayor, collaborating with the enemy — are plucky rebels who take to combat with remarkable ease. The pic fleetingly suggests that vidgame experience fortuitously prepared them for real-life fighting. (Still, one commando isn’t entirely grateful: “Dude, we’re living ‘Call of Duty.’ And it sucks.”)

Battle scenes are infused with a propulsive sense of urgency, as Bradley (a vet stunt coordinator and second unit director) often achieves an effective semi-documentary look with Mitchell Amundsen’s skittish handheld lensing and Richard Pearson’s kinetic editing. Pic was shot on Michigan locales that persuasively double for the script’s Pacific Northwest setting.

Between stretches of full-tilt excitement, “Red Dawn” slows down for sequences in which actors must deliver dialogue that ranges from serviceable to risible. (Hemsworth and Peck must do some especially heavy lifting.) From time to time, the thesps are a tad too passionately intense for their own good, and aud giggles may result.

Elsewhere, the film takes entirely too long to explain the full scope of the North Korean invasion — how it was accomplished, what other U.S. cities have been overrun, etc. — giving skeptical viewers too much time to pick holes in the thin plot. Late in the action, however, a few questions are helpfully answered by co-stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (more or less channeling the original’s Powers Boothe character) and Kenneth Choi (the pic’s token Asian good guy).

Still, some nagging questions will remain unanswered until “Red Dawn” hits theaters Nov. 21. Despite the original pic’s nostalgic appeal to many Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, will the title have any resonance at all for the remake’s obvious target demographic of young male auds? Or will the new action-adventure rely more heavily on the marquee value of Chris Hemsworth (who actually filmed “Thor” and “The Avengers” after this pic) and the cross-generational allure of all-American, semi-militarized ass-kicking?

Red Dawn

Production: A FilmDistrict release of a Contrafilm production. Produced by Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson. Executive producers, Vincent Newman, Kevin Halloran. Co-producer, John Swallow. Directed by Dan Bradley. Screenplay, Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore, based on the motion picture "Red Dawn" written by Kevin Reynolds, John Milius, from a story by Reynolds.

Crew: Camera (color), Mitchell Amundsen; editor, Richard Pearson; music, Ramin Djawadi; music supervisor, Dana Sano; production designer, Dominic Watkins; supervising art director, Tom Reta; art director, Gina B. Cranham; set decorator, Daniel B. Clancy; costume designer, Catherine George; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS), Kirk H. Francis; visual effects producer, Liz Ralston; stunt coordinator, Darrin Prescott; second unit director, Scott Rogers; assistant director, Joe Camp III; casting, Deborah Aquilla, Tricia Wood. Reviewed at Fantastic Fest, Austin, Sept. 26, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Jed Eckert - Chris Hemsworth
Matt Eckert - Josh Peck
Robert Kitner - Josh Hutcherson
Toni Walsh - Adrianne Palicki
Erica Martin - Isabel Lucas
Daryl Jenkins - Connor Cruise
Danny - Edwin Hodge
Tom Eckert - Brett Cullen
Julie - Alyssa Diaz
Capt. Cho - Will Yun Lee
Tanner - Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Smith - Kenneth Choi

More Film

  • Child's Play

    Film Review: 'Child's Play'

    Something happened to horror movies in the 1980s, the origins of which can be traced a few years earlier, to “Halloween” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”: The villains in brutally violent slasher movies became the heroes — or, at least, the characters audiences found themselves rooting for — which in turn created the opportunity for [...]

  • Radiohead - Thom YorkeRadiohead in concert

    Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to Release Solo Album Accompanied by Paul Thomas Anderson Film

    Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s new solo studio album, “Anima,” will be released digitally on June 27 on XL Recordings, he announced today. The album’s digital release will be accompanied by a “one-reeler,” also entitled “Anima,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood”) and set to three tracks from the new [...]

  • HKIFFS and Heaven Pictures

    Hong Kong Festival, China's Heaven Pictures Launch 'Back to Basics' Film Project Support

    The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) and China’s Heaven Pictures announced that they will award six Asian filmmakers RMB1 million ($145,000) in a joint project to demonstrate how high-quality films can still be made inexpensively. The six films that emerge from the new initiative, titled “Back to Basics (B2B): A Love Supreme,” will [...]

  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan in conversation at

    Shanghai: How Nuri Bilge Ceylan Sees the World so Differently

    At a masterclass on Thursday, Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan gave the initial impression of being an austere and unwilling participant. Wearing heavy glasses, keeping his coat on, and responding to questions rather than offering a class, his manner suggested that he was difficult. In China as the head of the Shanghai International Film [...]

  • SpiderMan Far From Home

    Hollywood Takes on Italy's Vacation-Heavy Summer Season With Blockbusters

    With upcoming movies such as “Toy Story 4,” “Men in Black: International” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Hollywood studios are finally taking the plunge this year and slotting their blockbusters in Italian cinemas during the summer, a time when residents traditionally hit the beach en masse. For decades, the studios withheld their [...]

  • Easy Money

    Netflix Orders 'Snabba Cash' Series Based on Hit Movie Franchise from SF Studios

    Netflix has ordered a six-part original series based on the hit Swedish crime franchise “Snabba Cash” from SF Studios. Based on Jens Lapidus’s bestselling novels, the series is set in Stockholm’s gritty criminal underground ten years after the events depicted in the “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money,” pictured) movie trilogy. The society has become even more [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content