Red Dawn – Review

by Ken B.

By today’s standards, Red Dawn is excruciatingly slow, but as a result, it has something most 21st century action films lack, which are multi-dimensional characters with back story and qualities worth caring for.

The story is rather interesting. In  a Colorado town, a sudden invasion of communist paratroopers claim the town at the start of what will become World War III, and killing hundreds within this suburban area. In a rather desperate action, two high school students, Jed Eckert (PATRICK SWAYZE) and his brother Matt (CHARLIE SHEEN, when Charlie Sheen was still sober enough to stand up) round up some friends; Robert Morris (C. THOMAS HOWELL, when people still had a notion who C. Thomas Howell was), Danny (BRAD SAVAGE), Daryl (DARREN DALTON), and Arturo “Aardvark” Mondragón (DOUG TOBY). They decide to team up and fight these opposing soldiers, gaining access to resources and guns, and calling themselves the Wolverines, based off their school mascot.

What you must know before watching “Red Dawn” is that this is basically a 124 minute NRA commercial. It’s Republican-style political undertone of pro-America, pro-guns, anti-communism is too obvious to overlook if you’re not on board with that stuff.

But even if you aren’t, it’s still a mighty entertaining ride. The early actions of the Wolverines, while at times drastically unrealistic, are brilliantly breathtaking and well worth the watch. At the same time, you realize that at one point, the action film meant something.

However, the story is completely cut and dry. It starts, you kind of know where it’s headed, and I pretty much had the ending perfectly predicted about thirty minutes in.

When everything else in a movie is done well, however, you don’t care how predictable it is, you just enjoy the characters and what’s happening. When a movie is bad, however, surprises aren’t more welcome (like the screen to explode halfway through).

Speaking of explosions, let’s talk about the effects. Never before has an explosion looked prettier and more operatic than it does in Red Dawn. It sort of works and sort of doesn’t. Explosions aren’t supposed to look operatic, so maybe that wasn’t the task at hand. But whatever it sets out to do, it looks operatic.

A problem I had with Red Dawn was, you know, the dialogue was, you know, repetitive, you know, and the dialogue was rep… you know… etative, you know. And did I mention the dialogue was repetitive?

Yes, the screenplay seems to believe that whoever watches this movie is a complete idiot devoid of any skills which implications would work with, so a character must always explicitly make clear a point that was already obvious. After a while, it does get annoying, but what do you do?

In 2009, MGM decided to remake Red Dawn, but when production wrapped later that year, MGM went bankrupt for the third time in history, and several films, including the highly publicized Cabin in the Woods, went on the shelf for an indefinite amount of time. I now have no intention to review the remake when it is released November 21, 2012, as its source material captures a form of the action genre it was most likely unsuccessful at remaking. An action film with people that have emotion, and a reason for things happening.

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