I’ve been seeing this one coming since I started writing these. It’s always been one of those I didn’t want to sit through because not only did it look really stupid, but I’ve never seen the original so my analysis would be somewhat incomplete. All that though, was just excuses for me to avoid it and I’m not about to let this (alleged) piece of crap occupy my mind any longer. I’m gonna sit down, grit my teeth, and get this over with. You wanna know how much I’m dreading this remake? Netflix thinks I’ll give the movie ONE star. ONE. STAR. Pray to Cthulhu for me. This might get ugly.
The movie begins incredibly similar to the way that crappy game Homefront started, which isn’t a surprise considering Homefront was written by the writer/director of the ORIGINAL Red Dawn. We get some random news feeds, maps of things turning red, all sorts of stupid crap. It’s just as racists and paranoid as it was in Homefront, and yet it’s even less believable here. See, Homefront’s story involved the formation of the Greater Korean Republic (i.e. North and South working together) as well as a war in the Middle East that crippled the global supply of oil. Still completely stupid and implausible, but Red Dawn doesn’t even try THAT hard. This is 100% North Korea vs. a U.S. as it is right now. Just in case you need a reminder of what that means, here’s some help.
Okay, I’ve bitched enough about the implausibility of this. If the movie turns out to be a fun resistance flick, then I can let a lot of that slide. Hell, Olympus Has Fallen is just as stupid, but I liked that one a lot! So let’s pretend this is some made up country full of bad asses trying to take over the U.S. called Korth Norea. After the paranoid jumble of news footage that comprises the opening of the film, we cut to an all American high school football game.
Josh Peck (yes, the Josh from “Drake and Josh”) is the quarterback who’s showing off and making mistakes, while his Marine brother (Chris Hemsworth) watches on with disappointment. They ultimately lose the game due to his showboating, but it’s not all bad for the little Peck. His super-hot, all American (I get the feeling I’ll be describing a lot of things like that in this movie), blonde girlfriend pulls up in a badass car and picks him up. We then cut to Chris Hemsworth in an all American bar where he chats up an all American red-head (Toni) who seems to be friends with the blond. Josh and the football team arrive at the bar, where the power swiftly goes out. They start hearing news reports about large sections of the U.S. losing power, but no one seems too worried just yet. The next morning though, all hell is breaking lose! Hundreds of airplanes are flying over this one town of no particular significance, so you KNOW they must have a lot of firepower if they can divert THAT MANY RESOURCES to here of all places.
With no time to lose, Thor springs into action and drives his brother to the family’s cabin in the woods (ha ha). Peck wants to pick up his girlfriend but her family has already been captured, so instead they grab a few guys from the football team. This whole car chase is actually pretty decent, though I have no idea how the Korth Norean’s were able to not only take a shit ton of American military jeeps, but also spray paint over the flags. It even has a pretty brutal moment where one of the kids in the bed of the truck gets flung out and smashes into one the jeeps.
That said, the movie is still pretty bloodless with no one getting killed who isn’t a Norean in fatigues, and even the kid who smashed through the windshield didn’t seem to have a cut on him. They eventually make it to the cabin (along with a few other survivors including Toni) and collect whatever resources they can. Of course, there has to be one asshole that’s itching for a fight for no god damn reason. The dude is obviously no match for the GOD OF THUNDER and instead just pouts in the corner.
The next morning, it turns out that the bastard stole all their food and ran off. Not letting it get them down, Thor and Peck start doing some reconnaissance and find out that a lot of the people who were captured are being held in the high school’s football field which has been converted into a rudimentary prison camp.
The blonde girlfriend and her family are being held there for some reason that the movie doesn’t care to explain. When the two of them get back from their day trip, they find out that the backstabber has been captured by the Noreans and ratted out their location. Not only that, but they have two dads of kids in the group held hostage. The first dad (the mayor) has already become the Norean’s loyal lapdog and tries to get the kids to come out. Thor’s and Peck’s dad (a cop) on the other hand tells them to kick some Norean ass before dying a valiant and noble death at the hands of the evil Norean colonel.
Without even bothering to check 200 feet into the woods (where the group is hiding) the Norean’s just leave. Everyone regroups in the forest, and they have a dialogue exchange that is just painful.
These characters have no personality at all and their only purpose is to spout fucking generic and baited dialogue that isn’t natural in the fucking least. We then cut to a montage that skimps over some really interesting stuff. Okay, the training is a good place to skip over, but we get a glimpse of daily life for the people who are living in the city. They’re moving along with their day to day business, while the Norean’s keep watchful eyes on them and instill as much fear as possible. They even skip over the gang (who call themselves Wolverines) finding fellow resistance fighters within the city! I guess they want to keep it big picture and action heavy, but none of that ends up meaning anything if we don’t care about any of them, or even get a real good sense of the world they now live in. After the montage, the movie goes into autopilot for a good half hour. We get some really quick scenes of them attacking Noreans and getting resources, and while I admit that I like these scenes for the action and modicum of creativity in their small scale assaults, they just go by too quickly to appreciate. You know what they DO take the time to focus on? Shooting a deer and making one of the kids drink its blood.
After that bit of pointlessness, we get some more action scenes of random attacks. We don’t get a sense of how much damage the group is causing, but the film does let us know that the Wolverines are becoming an inspiration for the people in the city living under the Norean’s thumb. Also, the little scumbag from earlier has gone full Benedict and gets his ass blown up.
That’s really all there is to say about most of the second act. It’s like a long form montage; Individual scenes that don’t really connect to each other, whose purpose is to just to show our heroes slowly growing in influence and strength. The next scene of actual importance is an attack they plan on a rally where we learn that the Russians are involved. Wait, WHAT!?!?!?!?
Why the fuck would the Russians have any interest in helping the North Koreans take over the U.S.? Ugh, fuck it. It turns out the Smussians are helping out the Korth Noreans, except there only appears to be one Smussian mother fucker in the entire god damn city. Anyway, the Wolverine’s plan is to blow up the stage, while also blowing up some cars. I don’t get the need to blow up the cars, but whatever. The plan is about to go off, but Peck sees his girlfriend in a school bus being… I don’t know. She’s a prisoner which means it’s a prison bus. Why the hell would they be moving them around? Are the Noreans taking them to a work camp? Did they make a separate prison? Whatever the reason, Peck springs into action, blows the car bombs off early (for some reason) and chases down the bus. This puts the entire plan in danger, but it seems that the plan was already screwed because the bad guy colonel seems to have found the bomb for the stage already. Okay…
While the beginning of this sequence where everything that could go wrong does go wrong is way too freaking coincidental, the remainder of the scene is actually pretty good. Peck taking over the bus is a pretty decent scene, and the rest of the Wolverine’s escaping has enough frantic energy to be effective. Once Peck and his girlfriend Erica (a name that’s only missing an AM) get off the bus, it’s great to see them not on take advantage of the city’s architecture and layout, but also getting help from supports of their cause. Unfortunately, the bad guys take out the male Hispanic member (that’s the only thing I know about him), and the rest of the crew aren’t happy by the time Peck makes it back.
There’s no time to deal with that though, because we go right back to having a random action scene right after that. The only reason for this scene’s existence is they forgot to do the “WOLVERINES!!!!” scene earlier, and has to sandwich this between two much more important scenes.
We cut from there to a Norean General visiting the evil Colonel telling him to take care of the Wolverines or else. This scene would make a lot more sense if it happened after the REALLY big attack that could have killed lots of high ranking officials, but like I said, this movie is cobbled together like a LEGO set constructed by a booze hound on a bender. Anyway the evil Colonel SOMEHOW knows where the Wolverines are hiding. I don’t know how the guy found out, and spoiler alert: they NEVER explain. We cut back to home base where Thor chews out Peck for a bit, but none of it really matters. What the hell does this conversation accomplish? We find out that Thor was in the Marines when their mom died and Peck has been pissed at him since. Big freaking whoop. It doesn’t give us any real insight into Thor (what the hell COULD he have done? Go AWOL?) and we still don’t have much of a reason to like Peck. After that, Thor flirts with Toni for a bit until the headquarters is air bombed. Don’t worry though. None of the white people get killed; Just the Hispanic guy’s sister and one of the black guys. Good job movie. At least the movie hates all people instead of just Asians, right?
The rest of the Wolverines run into the woods, and make sadness camp. Thor and Peck have ANOTHER conversation, this time with Peck talking about how the REST of the team is feeling instead of, you know, letting THEM say anything. Later that night they run into three marines, one of which is played by Jeffery Dean Morgan in a role that doesn’t call for the immense talents of the Comedian.
There’s also two other Marines, but neither of them are anything special. One is Asian so the movie can deflect racism accusations, and the other is the most obnoxious guy in the entire fucking film (he uses words like mo-tard).
The Marines explain what the hell is going on in the rest of the country, and it’s just as stupid as you’d imagine. The Korth Noreans have a super weapon that takes out ALL electricity in the ENTIRE country. Then they used missiles to hit strategic points in the U.S. THEN (with the help of the Smussians) they invaded the East AND West coasts. The entire middle of the U.S. is fine, but the coasts are COMPLETELY taken over (despite the immense concentration of population, infrastructure, and police on the U.S. coasts). The marines are looking for the briefcase from Pulp Fiction (it’s not like the movie bothers to explain what it does or what’s in it, so why not?) which is supposedly the key to stopping the super weapon and they believe it’s in the asshole colonel’s possession. WHY!? Why the hell is the secret super weapon (or secret super weapon nullifier) stashed here of all places!? Anyway… with the help of the Wolverines, they plan to retrieve it from the police station which is the Norean’s command center. The plan goes off pretty well at first, but at some point it goes to shit (like it must) and ends with a huge shoot out. The Wolverine’s find the briefcase, and Peck gets a hold of it. Asshole Colonel gets into a fist fight with Thor, and it ends with probably the stupidest thing in this entire movie, and THAT my friends is saying something. Seriously, the circumstances that led to the finale of this showdown are somehow stupider than the idea that an impoverished, miniscule, starving country could take over the U.S.
Okay, so the two of them are fighting in one of the rooms of the police station. The Colonel knocks Thor down to the ground, and grabs his gun to finish him off. At this point, Thor starts typing in a password into a keypad on the bottom of the desk that he’s laying down next to.
HE SOMEHOW KNOWS THE COMBINATION TO THIS COMPARTMENT UNDER THE DESK, and it opens up. It turns out that the desk was the one his father used (WHAT A COINCIDENCE!) and it ALSO has a loaded gun in it.
Yeah… Thor shoots the fuck out of the Colonel with his father’s gun. Excuse me while I go throw up. What the fuck is this shit!? How the fuck did Hemsworth end up under his father’s desk of ALL desks? Why was there a loaded gun in there? He was on duty when he got captured and I would ASSUME he already had his gun at that point. How did Hemsworth KNOW the combination to his father’s secret compartment in his police desk? How come the Noreans never checked to see if there were any weapons in the building!? Sure, they might not have been able to OPEN it, but wouldn’t they get rid of it at that point, and put in new furniture that DOESN’T possibly have loaded guns in them!? This movie’s gonna drive me crazy, I swear.
The Marines and Wolverines barely escape with the briefcase (one of them gets attacked by the only three Smussians in the city, but manages to get away) and heads back to their temporary headquarters (which is stocked with beer apparently). Thor congratulates Peck for not fucking up this time, and tries to chat up Toni. On his way to her though, he gets a bullet in the head.
At this point, Toni (who was an effective fighter throughout the movie) loses her god damn mind, and just screams as loud as possible while doing nothing to help anyone else. Contrast this with Peck who is giving orders and fighting back. Way to go movie. The not quite girlfriend completely melts down, while the MAN with the more prominent connection with the character keeps his cool. I’m sure all that courage and strength are hidden in the tentacles. The Marines and Wolverines fight their way out of the place, and drive back to the woods. Once there, they find out that the last black guy in the group (the one attacked by the Smussians) was implanted with a tracking chip or something when he was attacked. Of course Toni, who’s still completely devastated and full of femaleness, grabs a gun, screams her head off, and almost shoots the poor kid in his face for being indirectly responsible for the big strong guy’s death.
So now that the guy has a tracking chip in him, they leave him for dead with some supplies and a gun. I just want to point out that NONE of this was necessary. The movie is over in less than five minutes, and we didn’t need the closest thing to a strong female character completely breaking down as well as the abandonment of the last nonwhite character in this film (except for the Asian Marine who’s only been in the movie for about half an hour at most).
The Marine’s leave for the Midwest (i.e. where there is no invasion) but the Wolverines are too bad ass to leave their city. Peck starts giving a speech and the scene transitions to sometime later where he’s giving it to a whole new batch of Wolverine recruits. The movie ends with the Wolverines driving Mad Max cars straight into the prison we saw earlier, and freeing everyone inside.
This movie just SUCKS! I swear, the first time I watched this I was unable to even write anything about it. It just left me in a daze while I was watching it, and I only realized how fucking awful it was after it was over. It’s mind numbing, and that’s one of the worst things a movie can be. There are small moments where the action works and the concept is used effectively. That said, as a whole it feels like a complete hodgepodge of random scenes without any real connective tissue. Yes there’s action, but what are the consequences? People occasionally die, but we don’t spend time with them. The only two who get characterization are Thor and Peck, the former feels like he’s slumming his way through the film, and the latter trying too hard to reinvent himself as a serious actor. I don’t doubt that Josh Peck can be decent in other films, but the script makes him in particular come across as awful. His character is whiny and self-centered, and the scenes where he’s SUPPOSED to have some sort of emotion fall completely flat. The cobbled together nature of the action scenes, along with the underdeveloped characters, makes me think that this MIGHT have worked as mini-series. The action could be spread out more, there would be more time to spend with the rest of the team, and we might have learned what the hell was going on in the rest of the country that led to the Korth Noreans taking it over. Maybe they would have had a chance to explain the Smussian presence and, I don’t know, GIVE THE GUY A LINE!!!! Seriously! That one Smussian dude doesn’t say a word in either of the two scenes he’s in. He doesn’t even talk to the asshole Colonel. Whatever. The movie’s dull, poorly paced, underwritten, and racist. Skip this movie. It’s a piece of shit, and does not deserve your god damn time. There’s so much more on Netflix that’s worth watching. If you see yourself about to start this movie, just slap yourself in the face and pick anything else at random. I better find something good to watch next time, I swear.