Susan Granger’s review of “Red Dawn” (Film District)
Making money shouldn’t be the only reason for a re-make, but that’s obviously what propelled this ill-fated re-imagining of John Milius’ 1984 action hit, featuring teenagers Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen.
Opening with news footage of President Obama, Joe Biden and Hilary Clinton warning about the threat of cyber-terrorism and the death of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, the re-make launches into an attack against the United States. But this time, it’s not Russian Communists; it’s North Koreans, led by Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee). Back in 2009 when this was filmed, it was supposed to be the Chinese but, during post-production, when M.G.M. went bankrupt, the producers decided to change the nationality of the aggressors, demonstrating their awareness of the lucrative Chinese market for American films and not wanting to alienate Chinese government officials and potential foreign customers.
This invasion of the United States occurs in Spokane, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest, where hundreds of North Korean paratroopers land, obviously via CGI. That occurs on the morning after the local high-school
quarterback, perpetually scowling Matt Eckert (Josh Peck), blew a big football
game by not being a team player. His attitude inevitably – and predictably – changes when Matt and his laconic big brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth), a Marine who served in Iraq, flee with others to the family cabin in the woods. There, led by Jed, the teenagers form a guerrilla resistance force, calling themselves the Wolverines in tribute to their high-school team. Rah, rah!
Citing as inspiration the original screenplay by John Milius and Kevin Reynolds, this embarrassingly inept, often racist remake was scripted by Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore and directed by Dan Bradley, a former stunt coordinator and second-unit director. FYI: the earnest young actor who plays Daryl Jenkins, the Mayor’s distraught son, is Connor Cruise, the adopted son of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, this remake of “Red Dawn” is a wobbly, floundering 4. As one young commando observes, “We’re living ‘Call of Duty’ – and it sucks!”