When remaking a film, to warrant such a decision you’ve either got to improve upon what came before or at least offer something completely different. If not, then you have to cope with carrying the burden of being victim to the degrading question of, what is the bloody point? Sadly as far as Dan Bradley’s remake of the 1984 cult action flick Red Dawn is concerned, such a question lingers over the entire production.
Chris Hemsworth leads the cast as former soldier Jed Eckert, who – alongside his younger brother Matt (Josh Peck) – forms the beginning of an uprising against the brutal North Korean army who have invaded their small town. The soldiers’ random attack sees many people murdered, and while the American residents are stripped of their freedom and bullied into a strict regime, the Eckert brothers – along with a modest sized group of friends that go by the name of the Wolverines – take on the form of wild terrorist fugitives hoping to put a stop to the actions of the encroaching army, thereby saving their town.
Despite the narrative of this feature, there is no political depth of any kind, and nothing to engage the audience or inspire any interest in proceedings. It’s just a bunch of North Koreans invading a town. There is neither rhyme nor reason to their intentions, and such a distinct lack of context proves damaging. Not a single North Korean soldier is given any character or personality either, so it’s hard to care much about the opposition when you know so little about them or their motives.
Such a distinct lack of character development extends to the Wolverines also, resulting in very little empathy towards their case. You just care so little for their well-being that whether they live or die is very much irrelevant. Actually that’s a lie, because you do find yourself rooting for the death of most of them. If you want a more tangible reason why that is, then bear in mind that the supporting lead Peck is the annoying one from TV series Drake & Josh. And yes, he is still annoying. Thankfully Hemsworth turns in a decent performance to save the film somewhat, and his authoritarian presence and the evident fact he is a class above everyone else in this movie is reflected well in his role, as Jed is certainly the one reliable and experienced character amongst the crew.
Hemsworth doesn’t do quite enough to save this picture however, as a series of annoyances ruin any potential enjoyment to be had. Firstly we get into the action far too hastily, not allowing enough time to set up the story or character relationships at all. A nonsensical political montage during the opening credits doesn’t quite cut it. Following this, generic action proceeds to fill up the majority of this film. Action that doesn’t seem valid either, as how this group of inexperienced youngsters can even last 10 minutes against the North Korean army is completely beyond me.
The only plus side is that this does tell a story of the underdog and they are always relatively good fun, but Bradley fails to truly get to grips with what should be an absorbing hypothetical ‘what if’ scenario. Instead the only time you find that you’re asking yourself such a question, is in the context of ‘what if I leave half-way through this film?’