Review: Red Dawn

These days it seems like Hollywood is saturated with half-assed remakes, reboots and big blockbuster movies that are made to rack up the numbers at the box office, not necessarily to leave an impact or lasting impression. That’s what makes Dan Bradley’s vision of the 1984 movie Red Dawn so refreshing; the formula is there for a big action packed movie, but there’s still a lot of heart to the film.

Lucky enough to score a pre-screener to the new Red Dawn last night before it opens Wednesday, November 21, we went into the film with low expectations and were pleasantly surprised with how it all played out.

When the town of Spokane is suddenly invaded by North Korean soldiers, a group of misfit teens – high school footballer Matt (Josh Peck), childhood friend Toni (Adrianne Palicki), tech savvy Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and the mayor’s son Daryl (Connor Cruise) led by Matt’s older brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth) – flee to their family cabin in the wilderness to regroup. Not knowing the fate of their families, they arm and train themselves after Jed’s military guidance and form an armed resistance known as the Wolverines to take back their homes.

The film set a steady pace right from the beginning, not wasting too much time on building a background before jumping into the action. But even so, the story didn’t feel rushed and a clear development of character continued to build while on the run. There was a welcomed blend of comedic jabs weaved throughout the action, something which can often dissect the flow of the film but worked really well in this case, an entertaining training montage and lots of high quality explosions.

Naturally, there was also a strong patriotic theme throughout with a number of inspiring motivational speeches about standing up for your country and for your home. In films like this, it’s those moments that send those shivers up your spine and cause the audience to clap and holler out during victorious moments (which happened numerous times in our screening).

With Hemsworth and Hutcherson being linked to massive geek-friendly films this year (The Avengers and the Hunger Games, respectively), we were certain our beloved nerdiness would pigeon hole each actor into their previous roles and take away from the film. Thankfully, they were able to redefine themselves on screen for this underdog story and while Thor may have be missing his long hair and hammer, he still nailed it.

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