Friday, Nov. 23, 2012
The Big Screen: 'Red Dawn' comes across as outdated action-filled propaganda
By Kevin Vaughn
"Red Dawn" follows a group of heroic violent-video-game-fed teenagers in small town America who band together to fight the sudden threat of invading terrorists.
Maybe at the height of the arms race, or even toward the end of the Cold War, a film about a Commie army invading the United States with such ease would be relevantly frightening. And in the Commie drama, danger lurks everywhere, even in Spokane, Wash. Today, in a film that takes itself a little too seriously, it reads as outdated action-filled propaganda. Making the film campy and self-aware would have been a welcome change of tone.
The threat is North Korea. Russia at one point represented a real danger. North Korea, although governed by despotic lunatics, can hardly keep the electricity on let alone shut down all the power along the Northwest and lead a successful sneak attack on the American Pacific Coast.
Be that as it may, army tanks and paratroopers led by Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee) invade Washington State and it's up to a band of high school kids to take up arms and save the fate of the country. They are led by war veteran Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Snow White and the Huntsman), and joined by a typical hodge-podge of kids: the jock, the nerd, the rich kid and the cheerleader. They are also joined by three Marines, cast to read off the one-liners that make this a real action film.
Director Dan Bradley used to work as a stunt coordinator, and his natural eye for choreographing fight scenes are impeccable. Unfortunately the movie is filmed mostly on a shaky handheld camera and the excellence of the battle scenes all blur together into one indecipherable shot after another.
Notable is the performance of Hemsworth and Yun Lee. Hemsworth filmed "Red Dawn" prior to becoming the star of "Thor." Even working with such cheesy dialogue, you can see an action developing underneath.