The 1984 cheesy cold-war era classic Red Dawn holds a special spot in the hearts of guys who grew up imagining heroic resistance to invaders from the Evil Empire. It was perhaps the ultimate Reagan-era film, an unabashed patriotic fantasy in which the good guys and bad guys were clearly delineated, Europe had surrendered, and the only hope America and the free world had was feisty, freedom-loving American teens. I loved it.
Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey and Powers Boothe rounded out the cast of this iconic film.
Now, after countless delays, the remake is in theaters near you. Originally, it was to have the Chinese invade, but someone realized the Chinese watch a lot of movies but won’t be watching one in which they are the bad guys, so after a few months of computer magic, presto!, the bad guys are now North Koreans invading the sacred American land of Spokane Washington.
Originally, I dismissed the movie due to the implausibility of North Korea invading (for some reason, the implausibility of untrained American teens in Levi’s vs. trained armies didn’t bother me). But the movie covers for this well, stating that the North Koreans invaded the Pacific Northwest and unnamed adversaries invade elsewhere. The Russians, of course, show up again as a part of this axis of evil.
Chris Hemsworth takes over for the Patrick Swayze roll and makes a charismatic and capable lead. The only miscast was in the key role of his younger brother, a role that Charlie Sheen carried in the original. In the remake, this spot is left to Josh Peck and he is distractingly miscast. It’s as though Justin Bieber is the #2 for this band of teen warriors.
Yet, that’s not enough to prevent you from enjoying this fun, thrilling, ridiculous update. Despite its absurdity, I found myself having a very good time. Plenty could have have been done to make it better, the ending was painfully heavy-handed, but all-in-all, it’s like buying a ticket to re-live a bit of your 80s youth.
PS. Local TV newscaster Dan Lewis scores a cameo!