Moviegoers will be hard-pressed to find a more unabashedly pro-American film this year than Red Dawn, even with Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln sharing screens with this remake of the 1984 cult classic.
Amidst a recessed economy and looming international threats, residents of modern-day Spokane, Wash., take time to enjoy a Friday night high-school football game and post-game festivities before a massive electrical blackout. They wake up the next morning to find North Korean soldiers parachuting into their city. A region-wide electromagnetic pulse had disabled their infrastructure and defenses, allowing the North Koreans to take over much of the western part of the country, with the Russians apparently taking over much of the Eastern seaboard.
Facing an oppressive Communist occupation, Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), a young Marine on leave, rallies a group of teenagers and young adults to form a guerrilla operation that will disrupt North Korean operations and soften up the enemy until free U.S. forces can regroup and take back their land.
By grounding the story in the surprisingly complex relationship between Jed and his estranged teenage brother Matt (Josh Peck), director Dan Bradley and his team of screenwriters take what could have been an overly hokey and jingoistic tale and turn it into a patriotic film that rewards the viewer’s emotional investment.
Given the pervasive angst and insecurities facing many Americans today, Red Dawn (rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for some coarse language) also offers up appropriate commentary through characters who learn—some the hard way—the discipline and fortitude to overcome daunting challenges. As Jed tells his group, “We inherited our freedom. Now it’s up to all of us to fight for it.”
Audiences may notice that some of the stars look a bit younger than they should. MGM, which produced the film three years ago, went through bankruptcy, leading to a lengthy delay in the film’s release. With the exception of some crude language, it was worth the wait.