‘Red Dawn’ Review: Hugh Jackman Couldn’t Save These Wolverines

Michele November 26, 2012 0
‘Red Dawn’ Review: Hugh Jackman Couldn’t Save These Wolverines
  • Plot
  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Action
  • Special Effects

Red Dawn

Director: Dan Bradley
Writers: Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore, Kevin Reynolds (1987 original), John Milius (1987 original)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Conner Cruise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Cinematography: Mitchell Amundsen
 

When a movie is actually completed in 2009 and takes over 3 years to hit theaters, that doesn’t bode well for it being a masterpiece. When said picture is also a re-make of a classic 80′s film featuring the likes of Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, and Lea Thompson – that’s kind of a recipe for disaster. But this version of Red Dawn does at least match the original in the star department, with Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson taking roles as kid soldiers. The fact that this was filmed before they had the bank-ability of The Avengers and The Hunger Games behind them probably means that this is one of those “early” movies that you want to forget making when you’ve finally hit it big. If anything Red Dawn does at least promise to be an awesome action movie, right? Explosions and gunfights while trying to destroy an enemy that has taken over America should be fun regardless of the other stuff in between it. It’s always fun to watch America kick ass against a vague foreign power. We can only hope that the other stuff, like talking, doesn’t get in the way of a good time. Because this is a movie that uses a lot of military action and terms, I’ve decided to award medals and stars based on performance. Red Dawn may be about a bunch of teenagers trying to fight an army, but it certainly turns those kids into soldiers (using a cleverly placed montage). That may or may not have been a good thing.

Summary

Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) returns home from a tour with the Marines and expects to be relaxing while watching his little brother Matt (Josh Peck) play football. But when North Korea decides to invade the United States, they start with Washington. His little  town of Spokane is suddenly overrun with enemy forces and both brothers have to make a run for it into the woods. After banding together with fellow survivors of the initial takeover, they make a decision to fight back. But what can a group of kids do against trained soldiers? Calling themselves The Wolverines, after the high school football team, this small army will do all they can to win back their home.

The Good:

Medal of Honor Awarded for Action

There’s no denying it, if you’re watching this film purely for the fire fight you are in for it. There are some big explosions and brutal killing sprees that will keep any fan of violence happy. It’s kind of unbelievable how clever these kids can be, using guerrilla warfare to fight back against North Korea. While they do have a leader that was a former Marine, they sure do pull off a lot of daring plans. Especially when you consider that the people they’re fighting against managed to take over half of the United States in a matter of hours. But you don’t go into this kind of movie with too many thoughts in your head. It’s better to just sit back and enjoy the blood shed. And Red Dawn certainly deserves a medal for gun play.

A Gold Star for Some Good One-Liners

While most of the chatter in this movie is easily dismissible as overgrown pep talk, there are a few instances where I couldn’t hide my chuckle of laughter. I happen to really enjoy an action movie that has some comedic elements, so any opportunity for me to giggle while watching violence is a good thing. While some fans of the original might have some qualms about having so much fun while waging a serious war for the home of the brave, I really didn’t mind it. One of my favorites was the conversation the teens had about what they missed from their lives before the invasion. When one of them mentions they wish they could play Call of Duty, Robert (Josh Hutcherson) says, “Dude, we’re living Call of Duty and it sucks.” It’s a nice nod to the modern obsession with shooting video games, and it’s one of several lines that will put a smile on your face.

The Bad:

The Purple Heart for Over-Acting

While this is a “serious” movie featuring kids fighting for their homes, there is a fine line between emotional story line and over reaction. And when you cross it, there is no going back. There are several moments in the film where you’re definitely supposed to be feeling sad, what with someone dying and all. But when one of the other characters is losing their minds with grief, even when the situation calls for a quick getaway, it certainly looks forced. And when you’re staring at someone screaming and beating their fists against a dead body of a friend, you shouldn’t be wondering what the big deal is. The worst offender, and winner of the award, is Adrianne Palicki whose display of unbridled emotion causes extreme feelings of awkwardness. When you have a film about a bunch of kids killing members of the Korean army, you really shouldn’t focus too much on the crying.

Badge of Too Many Pep Talks

He may be my favorite actor of the summer, but Chris Hemsworth manages to take an award for the most pointless speeches. I suppose when a movie has the tag line “home of the brave”, I should have expected that I would be treated to a bunch of talk about why Americans need to stand up and fight. I just didn’t realize how much time would be spent giving pep talks. Jed Eckert, played by Hemsworth, is the leader of this bunch of rag tag soldiers, and makes it his job to keep spirits high even when things are looking grim. Unfortunately, he decides to do this by giving us long winded talks about freedom and America that bore you instead of putting you in a fighting mood. In my opinion, there should be one to two motivational speeches (like in the great action flick, Independence Day) and a lot more violence.

Medal for Worst Actor: Josh Peck

He may have been great on the hit Nickelodeon show, Drake & Josh, but Josh Peck should probably stick to comedy. Peck takes over the Charlie Sheen role of Matt Eckert, younger brother to the leader Jed. And while we have to admit that his life as a high school football star is changed overnight, he seems to whine about it the most of anyone. Josh also can’t really pull off an emotional scene without making you cringe. While none of the actors in the movie had great performances, Josh Peck truly takes the cake. By the end of the film, you’re probably going to be as annoyed with him as I was. If the rest of the film had been better, it might have been easier to overlook his terrible acting job. Unfortunately for Josh Peck, it’s obvious that he’s just not a good Wolverine.

Overall: 1.5 stars out of 5

As much as I wanted this to be a cool look at a gang of kids fighting back against a bunch of foreign soldiers, this just wasn’t worth the price of admission. There is a reason this film took so long to come out, and it’s because it was a movie that didn’t really need to be made. It doesn’t add anything to the story that the original didn’t already cover. It was a lucky break that Red Dawn has Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, because there’s not much else in this movie would draw an audience. While there are some cool moments, there aren’t enough of them to carry the film. The Wolverines definitely lost this game. And I lost a few bucks to this silly re-make instead of going to see a good action movie, like Skyfall. Oh well, that’s what you get for letting a pretty face lure you into a bad film.