The Wolverines are the football team of this smalltown in Spokane, Washington and tonight have just been beaten decisively by the visitors, leaving them to retreat to a local bar to lick their wounds. One of the players, Matt Eckert (Josh Peck) has seen his brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth) recently return from a tour of duty in Iraq where he was a marine, but now he's back to watch his sibling lose the big game. When they're at the bar, the power suddenly goes out which everyone treats as an ordinary cut, and they retire to bed, thinking it will be back on in the morning - but when they awaken the next day, they have a nasty surprise waiting.
John Milius' film Red Dawn is recalled for its epitome of the Cold War wish fulfilment movie, where any American itching to kill them some Commies would be standing up and cheering when they watched the Soviet Union (and the Cubans) invade the United States, thereby giving them all the excuses they needed to pick up their guns and get to saving The Land of the Free. Not that the country was under much threat, not of the kind the movie expounded on at any rate, but at least you could watch a World War III flick and be cheered that it wasn't yet another one where nuclear bombs went off and made everyone sick.
For the remake, however, the world had changed, but the plot had not, which rendered it something of an anachronism: only the difference in villains was going to mark this out from the original. In the orginal version of the remake those baddies had been Chinese, but the global market was dictating Hollywood studios were collecting most of their profits from foreign concerns, and that meant China was providing a hard to ignore amount of the potential cash. Now, no Chinese audience was going to flock to see their proud nation painted as a bunch of low down scoundrels, so what could the producers do? The answer was to put the blame on a country where the movie would not be released.
The impoverished but blustering North Korea was that country, which although this Red Dawn had been completed three years before it was released, coincidentally also featured in the blockbusting Olympus Has Fallen which apparently was a lot more acceptable to audiences than what went on here since it drew a poor reaction and low box office returns. Were they missing out on a movie which did something genuinely refreshing with a gung ho concept of thirty years before? Short answer, nope, as they kept most of the plot points without bothering to update them, regarding them as gospel in spite of the world leaving them behind in the passage of time between original and reimagining.
Mind you, if you could swallow that Hemsworth and Peck shared the same parents then you might get on fine with the shenanigans unfolding for a curiously bland ninety minutes here. Their screen dad didn't even yell "Avenge me!" and if stuntman turned director Dan Bradley had opted to up the cheese factor to make it the equivalent of the eighties version he might have been onto a good thing; as it was you got a bunch of interchangeable teens led by Jed, having escaped the invasion of their town by the North Korean Army to seek refuge in the mountains, taking on the uncertain might of a whole nation and emerging the victors. Well, sort of, as with first time around there wasn't really an ending, and there were Wolverine casualties, except with so little personality you would be hard pressed to remember who was and who wasn't surviving. This Red Dawn demonstrated the drawbacks of remakes, in that it did nothing to improve on the predecessor and made a bunch of new mistakes all by itself. Music by Ramin Djawadi.