Red Dawn

Ludicrous invention of John Milius’s paranoid 1980s action movie. Now we hate the North Koreans

Film Title: Red Dawn

Director: Dan Bradley, Isabel Lucas, Josh Hutcherson

Starring: Chris Helmsworth, Adrianne Palicki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Genre: Action

Running Time: 93 min

Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 06:00


Whatever else you might say about John Milius you couldn’t deny he had guts. Nearly 30 years ago, the great right-wing writer and director offered two fingers to liberal Hollywood with a triumphantly stupid teen adventure concerning a Soviet invasion of the US.

What must Milius make of the cowardly, un-American way the makers of this brainless retread kowtowed to the US’s current economic rival? The new version of Red Dawn originally had China as the invading force. Following delays due to the collapse of MGM, the producers, pondering the rise of that nation as a market, decided to digitally alter the military livery and transform the aggressors into North Koreans.

Yeah, Red Dawn Redux really argues for the stubborn resilience of the American people. Off-screen, film producers run screaming from the economic might of the People’s Republic. On screen, a socially underdeveloped nation of 24 million souls takes one day to occupy a superpower of 315 million people.

Oh well. It’s not inconceivable that such a scenario could produce a decent hunk of pulp. The opening few scenes (heavily reliant on the Milius original) work well enough.

The morning after a football match in a suburb of Spokane, hunky Chris Hemsworth opens his door to discover the skies alive with enemy paratroopers. It’s a great image and it has an even more impressively surreal effect when played out in an era that finds the US under no serious threat of invasion. After that, the film collapses into a morass of pointless running around and shouting.

Hemsworth is solid as the leading member of a youthful resistance force named the Wolverines. Josh Peck is miscast as the callow underling. Isabel Lucas acts as if she hasn’t fully woken up from her last anaesthetic.

The oddest point in a weirdly compromised project comes when Hemsworth, a former marine, draws a moral equivalence between the Wolverines and insurgents in Iraq. Hang on. What kind of mad, right-wing film is this anyway? Milius would be appalled.