Stunt coordinator of Bourne movies delivers compromised invasion remake
“North Korea? It doesn't make any sense!” So exclaims Josh Peck as he watches enemy soldiers swarm his hometown. Yet with Kim Jong-un currently flexing his military muscles between watching basketball games with Dennis Rodman, this compromised remake has parachuted into something approaching relevance, even after three years on the shelf and a CGI-aided recasting of the bad guys. (China was the original invading army, but international distributors were less than keen.)
The 1984 Red Dawn remains a curdled time capsule of conservative paranoia, perfunctorily assembled by writer/director John Milius. First-time director Dan Bradley – stunt coordinator of the Bourne movies – has obviously seen the original a bunch of times and keeps things hawkish rather than mawkish in his cover version. The guerilla action is relocated from rocky Colorado to autumnal Washington, but the plot remains identical: when the US loses world war three, a high school football team – “Wolverines!” – become terror teens to harass their occupiers.
A pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth is gruffly competent as the special forces marine training his little brother (Peck) and pals in underhanded tactics while delivering ideologically jumbled speeches with a necessary single-mindedness. The kids are far less impressive, although their pic’n’mix of callow character motivations is positively Dostoyevsky-ian compared to the portrayal of their enemies.
The action is generally well-staged, although watching teenagers building car bombs and cracking jokes about Call Of Duty feels like something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Then, out of nowhere, Jeffrey Dean Morgan turns up with a MacGuffin mission to give Red Dawn an actual ending. “I hate these kids,” he mutters, and you might find yourself nodding in agreement.
Released 15 March 2013