Rating: 2.5 of 5
I have to admit, I guess from the top, that I’ve never seen the original Red Dawn. But I actually didn’t think this movie was half bad.
I mean, it was pretty clear from the trailer that this wasn’t going to be a great film. Good trailer, but without much substance to back it up.
And it’s a remake of an 80s movie so I half expected some of the cheesy 80s action movie aura to seep through. I think it makes it easier to enjoy a film when you go into it expecting it’s flaws.
I feel like I don’t even need to say that the plot is formulaic because, being an 80s remake, that should be a given. There isn’t a sense of time at all in this film. These kids become an adept fighting force in the course of a monologue. There’s some cheesy lines. There’s plenty of ploys hoping to manipulate your emotions rather than genuinely engage them.
But I liked the characters and it’s surprising, I guess, how far likability will take you. I didn’t love them, so it didn’t hurt when they died. It was ok, though, because the moments where the action stopped and the characters were just talking weren’t cheesy. And you can roll your eyes at the stunts and the gun play all day long, but as long as you don’t roll your eyes when they’re just talking it works. Well enough, at least.
Surprisingly, Josh Hutcherson really stood out in a secondary roll. His character had an arc and it was as much a formula as the plot, but the beats of change were there and by the end he’d managed to transform from a very young, weak boy into something of a man and that progression of maturity and strength was subtle but good. Adrienne Padalicki was as good as she could be. I want to like her but I know she’s another Jessica Beal. Chris Hemsworth was engaging in a tough, stoic role and it was interesting to see the moments where he let that down. It really wasn’t Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s show, but he delivered his snarky lines as only he can.
The directing was good enough. There were a few times when the action was too fast and it was hard to track. But there were also a few decent stunts. The DP, however was really impressive. The lighting and color was fantastic.