Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Red Dawn | Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise, Adrianne Palicki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Red Dawn | Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise, Adrianne Palicki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan | Review

Holy invasion!  The North Koreans are parachuting into Spokane, forcing residents into detention camps when they’re not publicly executing its prominent citizens.

Tanks roll down Main Street.  Large red stars adorn buildings that formerly housed police stations and municipal buildings but this is no Macy’s commercial.  Armed soldiers scowl at the frightened citizens.  Neighborhoods are overrun, bombed and emptied of their inhabitants – most of them anyway.

A group of high school kids led by Matt (Josh Peck) and his older brother Jed (Cris Hemsworth) - conveniently an Iraq War veteran - escape and turn into a resistance group called the Wolverines, named after the local football team.  Jed, Matt and a handful of friends (Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas) plot counteroffensives and sabotage missions, making a fierce name for themselves and giving hope to occupied America.

Some scenes are replicated from the original (remember leading the enemy into camouflaged, booby-trapped sniper pits?) and the first third of the film is actually promising before it lapses into eye-rolling tedium.  There’s certainly a satisfaction in seeing the invaders thwarted, ambushed, and made to retreat.  But cardboard characters, silly dialogue, and scenes of extended gunfire (too much creates a glazed effect) overpower the upstart resistance effort.

It doesn’t help that you don’t care for and not invested in any of the characters’ fates.  Maybe the fate of the U.S. – but it takes caring about this chosen microcosm to make the whole thing work.  Without it, there are just two sides shooting at each other from various angles and locations.  Sometimes it’s effective.  Sometimes the eyes roll right along with the tanks.

Hemsworth is capable of mustering up some sympathy amid the wooden rebels.  Peck is less effective.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a Marine colonel who joins forces with the Wolverines comes close to being believable in the role.
Director/stunt coordinator Dan Bradley, in his feature debut, helms the remake of the 1984 John Milius film and fills is with updated visuals, weapons, technology and enemy.  28 years ago it was the Russians.  This time it was supposed to be the Chinese, changed late in the game to the North Koreans, who incidentally, you get to know about as well as the red stars that invade the occupied city.

And about as well as the stars whose characters invade the film.