Red Dawn (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/03/2013

One out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Risible, ill-advised remake of an already not very good action thriller that falls down thanks to a nonsensical, largely incoherent plot, poor characterisation, terrible dialogue and a series of increasingly tedious action sequences.

What's it all about?
Directed by Dan Bradley, Red Dawn is a remake of John Milius's 1984 action thriller, which posited a Soviet invasion of the United States. Set in rural Spokane, Washington, the film stars Chris Hemsworth as ex-high school heartthrob Jed, who has barely returned from a tour of duty in Iraq before a North Korean army, led by Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee), parachutes out of the sky and invades his small town, taking prisoners left, right and centre and shooting anyone who attempts to fight back.

However, Jed, along with his star quarterback brother Matt (Josh Peck) escapes and heads for the hills, rounding up a small group of teenage survivors that includes barmaid Toni (Adrianne Palicki), tech nerd Robert (Josh Hutcherson), cheerleader Erica (Isabel Lucas) and the Mayor's son, Daryl (Connor Cruise). After a crash course from Jed in survival skills and armed combat, the group name themselves the Wolverines (after the local high school football team) and become a guerrilla fighting force, dedicated to defeating the invading army and rescuing their town.

The Bad
Hemsworth makes a solid leading presence (he was apparently cast as Thor the day after he was cast as Jed) but he's saddled with some truly terrible dialogue and forced to utter clunkers like ‘Even the tiniest flea can drive a big dog crazy.’ The rest of the cast do their best (Peck, Hutcherson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a late-arriving Marine in particular), but the characterisation is so thin that it's practically non-existent, so you barely even register their names, let alone care whether they survive or not.

The film's biggest problem is the nonsensical script; quite apart from the ridiculousness of North Korea invading in the first place (the invading force were originally Chinese, but then it was deemed the movie wouldn't play well in China, necessitating lengthy foreign dialogue reshoots and the digital altering of insignias, uniforms, flags, etc), there's no discernible logic to the army's gameplan once they're in place: for example, a large number of civilians are detained in concentration camps, but many others are apparently allowed to wander free, inconvenienced only by the occasional checkpoint.

The Worse
On top of that, there's no real plot to speak of, so the film devolves into a series of explosion-heavy guerrilla attacks (director Bradley is a former stunt co-ordinator) that, without a coherently laid-out plan in place, quickly become tedious and repetitive. On top of that, the film is completely lacking in humour; a sense of fun or at least the occasional knowing, tongue-in-cheek moment of dialogue would have gone a long way.

Worth seeing?
Ultimately, with Red Dawn, there's nothing here that 2010's Tomorrow When The War Began didn't do a thousand times better. Watch that instead.

Film Trailer

Red Dawn (15)
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Content updated: 16/10/2017 23:03

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