Instead of Soviet invaders and pissed-off Cubans, the 2012 variation on a potential third World War has the North Koreans and Russians working together to invade American soil to rid the world of their purported greed.
Whether or not greed is specific to America or whether it's evident that people from nations around the world demonstrate the same characteristics if given the opportunity is a moot point. This is much like the handling of military logic and presented ideological beliefs, seeing as the fight against these unexpected invaders posits an autocratic structure, wherein generic soldier boy Jed (Chris Hemsworth) leads younger brother Matt (Josh Peck) and a gang of interchangeable teenagers in a fight against an entire military force.
Ostensibly, as they run off to a cabin in the woods and each learns elaborate preservationist skills over the course of a 30-second training montage, they establish an unspoken understanding that in order to protect their implied "freedom," they must fall in line and obey orders.
In setting up various pranks and explosions around the town of Spokane, where citizens are either locked in their homes or kept in a giant containment facility in the middle of town, the goal is seemingly to erode the perceived order and inject chaos into the structure of the North Korean stronghold. Part of this involves spray-painting the word "Wolverines" everywhere in an impractical nod to territorial pissing.
Even though the dramatic element of this thematically confused, readily forgettable action film is laughable, forcing all of its emotional weight onto the shoulders of the uncharismatic and emotionally limited Josh Peck to learn how to be a man, or something, from his brother, the action is, at times, decent. In the opening scene, when the teens are fleeing armed invaders, and throughout the film as they stage various assaults, the propulsive and kinetic nature of the battles works well, despite the obvious lack of blood. It's just unfortunate that most of the camerawork within these sequences is either off-centre or completely incoherent.
What's more is that the tone of Red Dawn is perplexing at best. In the original, there was an isolationist sensibility that carried the film through from beginning to end. The kids were just kids fighting an unlikely battle where death was the likely outcome. Here, they always appear to have the upper hand, while the North Korean military structure seems weirdly static and easily manipulated, which makes for a much less dire, dramatically diminished, viewing experience.
In fact, nothing about this bland remake makes a great deal of sense, which is the inevitable outcome of allowing a stunt coordinator to direct a feature-length film. (Alliance)