At the end of the last decade and at the beginning of our current decade, tensions were high between the world powers. North Korea saw a shift in power from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un in 2011. NATO alliances were tested when North Korea and Russia began to be more and more friendly with each other. The European Union had faced multiple financial crises and the US was sending more and more troops overseas to deal with the last of the Iraq War and the mounting crisis in Afghanistan.
At least, that’s the set up for 2012’s remake of Red Dawn. Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) is a United States Marine, on leave in his hometown of Spokane, Washington when North Korean troops fall from the sky and Spokane, and the entire western seaboard and the middle third of the US are soon invaded by the North Korean army. Jed, his brother Matt (Josh Peck), Robert (Josh Hutcherson), Daryl (Connor Cruise), Toni (Adrianne Palicki), and, eventually, Matt’s girlfriend Erica (Isabell Lucas) all take on the insurgents, resorting to guerrilla-esque warfare and reconnaissance, under the name “Wolverines” which was the mascot for their high school.
I will admit, Red Dawn sat on my shelf for a while. Not because I wasn’t interested but because I had started watching it but it never really caught my attention. I knew it was good from what I had managed to see (about the first fifteen minutes) but I simply never found the time to revisit it. I cracked it open today and was impressed by the shooting style and the strength of the action. Hemsworth, of course, carried the film but the entire cast was electric. The casting directors did a good job at picking actors that had charisma but also who had different strengths. It really rounded out the cast and made it believable.
The shooting style was fantastic. Director Dan Bradley really utilized shaky camera style filming to make the audience really feel like they were in the thick of the action with the characters. In a military type film, I think that is very important to try to accomplish. It’s especially important when making a film that will be marketed to teens as well as people who enjoy military style movies. I will admit, this genre is growing on me. Even without my full appreciation, I really think Bradley did a very good job at making the audience feel like they were living this scenario as the events were unfolding.
Of course, action helps this shooting style flourish. This isn’t a film that is as intense as Dunkirk or other military movies like Hacksaw Ridge but for what it was, I was certainly on the edge of my seat the entire time. Spoiler alert, but I definitely wasn’t expecting Jed to die. Perhaps that comes from not knowing about the original film before this but it came out of left field and the action and the constant misdirection tactics the Wolverines engage in really helped that twist come to life.
In all, not having seen the original Red Dawn, I thought the remake was a solid action film. As with most action films, the script isn’t smart and character development is a minimum. I think Red Dawn is a solid, if underrated, action film.