“Red Dawn” brings action and patriotism with little plot

By Kayla Bridges

Poster for "Red Dawn."
Poster for “Red Dawn.”

If you’re looking for a movie packed with scenes of hardcore American patriotism and action scenes, then I would definitely recommend Dan Bradley’s directorial debut remake of the 1984 Patrick Swayze-driven “Red Dawn.” What the movie lacks in coherent plot, it makes up for with “shoot ‘em up” scenes. This movie may not be right for the kind of person looking for a deep and thought provoking movie, but for some mind-numbing entertainment, “Red Dawn” can hit the spot.
“Red Dawn” is about a group of high school kids, led by one older marine, who rise up against the North Koreans invading their town. The high schoolers, calling themselves “The Wolverines” after their school mascot, rebel against the North Koreans who had parachuted into the town, taken control of the mayor, and thrown many of the citizens in jail.
The cast includes Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Josh Peck (“Drake and Josh”) as brothers trying to build their relationship while defending the town. Jed (Hemsworth) had recently returned home to make amends with his family after spending six years fighting in Afghanistan. The plot follows Jed and Matt (Peck) as they rebuild their relationship by fighting the oppressive Korean rule over the town. Their struggle and bond, focusing on familial struggles and sibling rivalries, hits home for the audience, even if the rest of the plot can seem a bit outlandish at times. It is definitely the most redeeming and heartwarming part of the story.
Throughout the movie, there are a few minor subplots that weaken the strength and emotional ties to the audience that the brothers’ plot is trying to establish. There is a small side story between Matt and his high school sweetheart Erica (Isabel Lucas of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”) after he saves her from the Korean oppression. The relationship isn’t explored too much and so it never really grabs hold of the audience’s attention. There is also a subplot about fellow high schooler Daryl (Connor Cruise) watching his father comply with the Koreans.
Scene from "Red Dawn."
Scene from “Red Dawn.”

The story has some glaring holes. Throughout the entire movie, I found myself really questioning the believability of the story. First off, why were the Koreans attacking this small town? There were no real hints that this was, perhaps, a nationwide epidemic simply examined on a small scale. Had it been a suburb of Washington DC or New York City, there could have been an argument made as to the strategic significance of the Koreans taking over the town. Instead, we’re left feeling like the Koreans attacked because they are bad and America is good, which kind of fits as that seems to be a running theme throughout the movie. Though the action is largely the draw of this movie, many of the scenes have holes similar to the plot’s. The suspension of disbelief allows us to watch as a group of six kids take out and hold off hundreds of armed and trained men, but often their schemes left the audience wondering how the Koreans managed to take the town in the first place. Where were the Koreans while the Wolverines were setting up that bomb? What large city building has no security system or, for that matter, locks on the doors?
If you look past the holes in the plot, you can enjoy an action packed story with pretty good acting. Hemsworth again proves his worth as an action star, after “Snow White and the Huntsman” and major blockbuster “The Avengers.” Director Dan Bradley makes his directorial debut with “Red Dawn” after nearly thirty years in Hollywood as a stunt coordinator. He was also the second unit director with a score of big budget action movies, such as “Quantum of Solace,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” and “The Bourne Legacy.” As such, he has a good eye for action and that certainly translates to this film. While the plot might leave something to be desired, the action typically makes up for it with plenty of violence and explosions. For someone in the market for that kind of entertainment, you could definitely do worse than heading out to the theater to see “Red Dawn.