Red Dawn is a remake of the 1980’s orignal film starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. Now Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck play the brothers that roles were made for Swayze and Sheen. I’ve always been critical with remakes because they try to copy or mimic what the original accomplished: a sense of connection with each character, both great and small. With technology today that makes films more spectacular with special effects and trick camera work and visually stimulate two of the five senses; hearing and sight, the foundation of what makes a great film is taken away.
Chris Hemsworth, who plays Jed Eckert, is not half bad playing the leader of the ragtag band of rebels that fight back against the evil North Koreans. But all his strength and talent could not bring this film out of the dull abyss it created itself. The speeches that Hemsworth’s character gave to the escaped teens was cheesy and inane. If he made a small speech about surviving and trying to keep the band together, that would have been better. Making the main character a marine soldier does not impress me, because he already has been through war. There was no surprises nor genuine connection to this character. In the original, Patrick Swayze’s charcter did appoint himself as the leader, but he was leading by the seat of his pants and not by military training. In the remake, Hemworth’s character trains these kids to become a guerilla rebel band, but I felt that this was a little idiotic. Sure the foundation of the film was “fighting back”, but I felt that they missed the point entirely when they concentrated mostly on the warfare and not the progressive nature of what war can do to people. The other supporting roles like Josh Peck who played the brother of Jed Eckert, could not deliver a compelling performance if his life depended upon it. Josh Peck should stay playing kids television shows like Drake and Josh. He was suitable in playing kids and comedic roles. It was kind of comical watching him play a teenager turned rebel, trying to be this badass that can supposedly shoot guns and blow up stuff. Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, and a few other actors make up the rest of the so called rebels. Ironically, they were more believable in their role, than Hemsworth and Peck. The remake tries to reinvent some of the famous scenes of the original, but unfortunately the result fell flat and unimaginative. The action was mundane and boring, but yet loud and somewhat annoying. They tried to bring a big actor like Jeffrey Dean Morgan to liven up the feeling of patriotism that the director thought they needed. I admit, Morgan was a little entertaining to watch because he did shed a little bit of light on this dreary film. In the original, Powers Boothe, who played the veteran soldier, was the connection to the outside world for these teenage kids he brought a raw sense of what the counrty was going through. Although he never gave the kids an immediate sense of hope, he did however give the kids just enough inspiration to make the rebels push forward.
In the original, the film stretched through months, giving us a picture of what the invasion has put the kids and civilation through. In the remake, I felt they rushed it. Yes, the immediate ambush at the beginning of the film was okay, but then they head straight to the training, with a little bit of down time trying to give us a little drama between the kids who escaped the evil North Koreans. The North Koreans were an interesting choice of villains. I can understand why the director would pick them, since the director was trying to contemporize the movie and the North Koreans did seem like a perfect adversary, since they had been in the news lately as a nuclear threat and not to mention they are a Communist state. What makes a good action film is having a good adversary to go up against. I feel the director should have done more with the North Koreans. The bad guys didn’t have any depth to them. They were mindless villians that just pushed, bullied, and killed the civilian people. Normally, you would want to feel hatred toward them, but there was nothing to hate, nor to like either. The action sequences between the two sides: the rebels and the North Koreans was boring and uneventful, no imagination whatsoever.
In conclusion, the remake failed to capture what the original film did so brilliantly, and that is the loss of innocence and the discovery of how far one would go to survive against unbeatable odds. My opinion is that the film would been a lot more enjoyable and believable if they used actors that were not well known so it can give it a sense of vulnerability and unpredictable outcomes. I would recommend this movie only to watch it on DVD and wait for maybe a year or two before renting it. Don’t waste your ten dollars to see it on film.