Thursday, March 19, 2015

Film Review: Red Dawn (2012)

Red Dawn (Review)
United States/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

When the United States is invaded by North Korea, a group of young people unit to protect their backyard...

Red Dawn primarily follows U.S. Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), his brother Matt (Josh Peck), and a few others after the invasion. Jed trains the young group and they form the Wolverines -- a group fighting the invaders. So, the group miraculously learn how to flawlessly handle their weapons and outsmart a military that somehow invaded mainland U.S. That's about it. The group attack an outpost, escape the invaders' clutches, attack again, and repeat. It makes for a decent blockbuster action film for the first hour, but becomes too repetitive and exhaustive towards the predictable ending.

I've said this before for films like White House Down, but I really mean it this time. In order to even slightly enjoy this film, you have to suspend reality. I mean, you have to watch this like you're watching The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. It's filled with gaps in logic for the story and the characters. The explanation for such an unbelievable invasion is half-assed. The way these kids learn how to use weapons and out-maneuver the invader is unbelievable; the training is a five minute montage! Then, you have characters like Matt creating contrived and predictable moments. "Oh, I have to save my high school sweetheart, she's like family. Who cares about everything else!" The lack of character really doesn't help in understanding these dumb choices, either.

I can go on and on about the many holes in logic, but I won't -- I think you get the gist. The film's story and characters are wasted. The only saving grace for Red Dawn is its surprisingly decent action sequences. There are plenty of chase scenes, shootouts, and explosions in this 90 minute feature. After the quick introduction, you're thrown into the invasion and nearly nonstop action. This is good for the first hour, as I previously stated, but it does get boring after that. You can only watch the same style of explosions and chases for so long before you get bored. It's not much, but the action was enough to at least keep me seated until the end.

The acting is hit-and-miss. Chris Hemsworth is great, a charismatic and controlled performance. Josh Peck, on the other hand, is lacking in charisma and screen presence, especially for a leading man; he also looks a bit off as a high school student, too much makeup, perhaps? Everyone else is forgettable because they have no character. The film looks and sounds decent, nothing really stood out. The explosions looked good, though. Director Dan Bradley delivers big blockbuster action that severely lacks character and a thought-out plot. I suppose the sloppy writing is more too blame for what feels like a rushed remake. (I haven't seen the original, by the way.)

Overall, Red Dawn is a boom-and-bang film. A lot of explosions and shooting, exactly what you'd expect from a blockbuster. Unfortunately, unlike many great blockbusters, Red Dawn is also missing variety in its action, a good and entertaining story, and good characters. Red Dawn has none of that. I mean, do  you really expect me to believe North Korea with the small aid of Russia could invade the United States? They didn't even try to make it believable... Remember, folks, watch this like you're watching Star Wars.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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