Red Dawn (2012) | Movie review
John Milius’s jingoistic war story gets a gritty update.
Like John Milius’s 1984 film, the new Red Dawn begins with intimations of global political meltdown: Haphazardly cut news footage hints that everything from cyberterrorism to the European debt crisis is somehow linked to the North Korean invasion we’re about to see. Second-unit veteran and sometime stunt coordinator Dan Bradley’s remake has been on the shelf for a few years, but that hasn’t prevented half-assed stabs at topicality. (It’s been reported that the attackers’ nationality, originally Chinese, was altered in reshoots and postproduction.) Why even bother? As if any scenario is more timeless than teens waging guerrilla warfare to save the nation.
The lag may account for the conspicuous dearth of iAccessories—though in Spokane, Washington, where the movie is set, the invaders begin by cutting the power. As with 2005’s Assault on Precinct 13, a weird, allegorical original has been made grittier and more “real.” The lead is now a just-home-from-Iraq Marine, Jed (Chris Hemsworth), who, egged on by his police-chief dad (Brett Cullen), trains the high-school-age Wolverines to be warriors. “If you look at the Viet Cong or the Mujahideen, even the Minutemen, it’s clear even the tiniest flea can drive a big dog crazy,” he explains in another example of the film’s political…inclusiveness. (Is he referring to the Revolutionary Minutemen or the jagoffs who “patrol” the Mexican border?) Seemingly conscious of the absurdity of the Milius film, the reboot plays revamped scenes (e.g., a boy kills a deer and drinks its blood) for laughs. Bradley delivers some cleanly cut action and some grimy, modest mise-en-scène, though neither compensates for the goofiness of the plot, which dates from a less globalized planet.