There are many reasons not to remake 1984’s “Red Dawn.” One good reason is that it’s a stupid movie. Another is that it’s a paranoid fantasy based on Cold War fears that no longer have any basis in reality. Yet some people have remade “Red Dawn” anyway, and have done so faithfully. The new version is at least as stupid as the original, yet modernized to include the Subway product placement that today’s audiences crave.
Shot in 2009 with China replacing the Soviet Union as the country whose army invades and occupies the United States, the movie fell victim to MGM’s money woes and was shelved. In the interim, to increase its potential with international audiences, the movie was digitally tweaked to make the invaders’ uniforms and flags North Korean instead of Chinese, with dialogue re-dubbed as necessary. (If China is the bad guy, China won’t let the movie play there. Nobody cares what North Korea thinks.)
Yes, America is taken over by North Korea in 2012’s “Red Dawn,” a premise that is laughable on its face and only grows more laughable in the execution. (“North Korea?!” says one of the characters upon learning who the invaders are. “It doesn’t make any sense!” An excellent point!) Directed by Dan Bradley, a stunt coordinator and second-unit director taking his first turn on the captain’s chair, the film is set in Spokane, which the North Koreans have invaded and now occupy for reasons the movie doesn’t even try to explain. A group of high school kids, led by Matt Eckert (Josh Peck) and his ex-Marine older brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth), hide in the forest and join the resistance movement. One training montage is all it takes for Jed to single-handedly turn them all into competent soldiers, fighters, and marksmen.
Bradley is addicted to shaky-cam, which lessens whatever impact the film’s more passable action scenes might have had. He’s also the sort of filmmaker who figures why have a truck drive down a street when you can have it plow through a series of backyards instead? Never mind the movie’s inherent ludicrousness: regardless of who, specifically, has invaded us, or why, “Red Dawn” turns it into just another brainless loop of shooting, fighting, and running; shooting, fighting, and running; shooting, fighting, and running.
D+ (1 hr., 39 min.; )