Red Dawn Lacks Political Relevance

Cat Kolm, Staff Writer

I have an underlying distaste for movie remakes.  I mean, does Hollywood run out of ideas and think, “Let’s take movies we’ve already done that weren’t received well, and make a better version of them”?  Even though some remakes are better than the original, my first reaction to a remake is generally negative.

Red Dawn fell into this category.

The original 1984 film, directed by John Milius, depicted an armed invasion by Cuban and Soviet soldiers.  It was a gritty, intense film considered among the most violent of its time. It starred Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, and Lea Thompson.

The remake, directed by Dan Bradley, was released on November 21. The new version stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, and Adrianne Palicki.  The plot loosely follows the original, though the invaders are from North Korea instead of Cuba and Russia.

One of the biggest knocks on the original was the lack of character development, and, as libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard put it, “there is no impulse to mourn as each one falls by the wayside.”  The remake has the same problem, but also lacks the political relevancy of the original, which came out during the Cold War.

The second problem is the casting.  Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of a Marine who trains his teenage brother and his friends to be guerrilla fighters was convincing enough, but some of the smaller roles drag the film down.  One example is Connor Cruise, who plays one of the teenagers taught to fight.  His character is intriguing, but Cruise usually sports a vacant, “What the heck is going on?” expression. 

Another poorly cast character is Josh Peck, who portrays Hemsworth’s resentful teenage brother.  Peck is a competent actor, but his previous career leaves every Drake & Josh fan waiting for him to bust out a Josh Nichols catchphrase (though not a single “Hug me, brotha!” is heard).

The script and camera-work are also weak.  While there are a few bubbles of well-timed comedy and most of the scenes are shot well, the majority of the conversation between the characters are too charged with emotion to pass as realistic, and a lot of the filming during the many fire-fights is  too shaky to convey what is going on.

While there are many problems, it is not the geopolitical mess it could have been.  Hemsworth and other actors slip into their roles seamlessly, and although the film is not pointed at current events, the possibility of a foreign invasion is interesting enough.

So is Red Dawn worth watching?  While the favorable aspects do make the movie enjoyable and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, I recommend saving your money and waiting for the DVD release.