DVD Review - Red Dawn (2012)

It's weird, but I wasn't going to see this movie based on the bad reviews and bad box office, but then something strange happened. Last week on April 15th, during the Boston Marathon, two young men bombed the finish line, killing a couple of people and injuring tons of the spectators and runners. It was discovered that the two men were Russian.

One of the two men was killed in a police shootout, which led to the entire city of Boston being put on lock down. Images of military-style humvees roaming the area as well as SWAT and cops as soldiers on the streets everywhere were seen. By the end of the week, the second of the two men was captured, but the images of a city on lock down all due to a Russian plot are ones that are at the core of Red Dawn (2012).

In reality, it was the U.S. itself locking down one of its own cities. In this movie, suspension of disbelief is required in order to accept that North Korea with the help of Russia could invade the United States and lock down the city of Seattle without the police or National Guard doing much of anything to stop them.

I could knock this movie for its bad acting, incoherent action sequences or the xenophobia against North Korea that is supremely overplayed, but I won't. I'll knock it for something else as well as praise it for that same something. Chris Hemsworth stars as Jed Eckert, an Iraq war veteran who has returned home who then has to train and lead a group of teenagers against the North Korean invasion.

Jed makes an observation that I thought approached something really profound. He realizes a parallel about the U.S. invasion in Iraq and this fictional North Korean invasion of the United States. Jed simply says over there in Iraq he was a good guy, meaning he was fighting insurgents. Jed then says that here in America he's a bad guy, meaning he was now part of the insurgents.

I praise the filmmakers here, specifically the writers Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore, for making this observation and potentially drawing this parallel. I knock the filmmakers for not going any further with it. The filmmakers leave that observation as it is, which is essentially the same as the position of the Bush administration at the time. It's more nuanced here because Jed calls himself a bad guy, whereas the Bush administration would never even think that.

Where the movie falls short is no exploration of the reverse being true. Jed could have easily considered the possibility that he is a good guy here and a bad guy over there. He also could have considered that he was a bad guy in both places. Yet, it's almost enough that this movie portrays Americans as insurgents, but no one watching can get why that's subversive because the villains as led by Captain Cho, played by Will Yun Lee, are portrayed in such stereotypically predictable ways as to undercut the power and emotion of this reversal.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense war violence and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.


  1. Good review Marlon. I don't blame you for checking this flick out to get over the harsh-realities we are living in, but I will say that maybe it's a bit too much of a distraction. Haha.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts