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Red Dawn Review

Director: Dan Bradley

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Adrienne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck

Synopsis: A young Marine, recently returned to civilian life, leads his friends in insurgency, when their Washington city is invaded, on all fronts, by a hostile foreign power.

One of the basic tenets of the chaos theory is that events are deterministic, suggesting that, given initial conditions, events are not susceptible to randomness. However, it is this precise determinism that, paradoxically, does NOT make them predictable at all, but vulnerable to… chaos.  This is the key premise to director Dan Bradley’s RED DAWN.

Chris Hemsworth, (Jed Eckert) a US Marine, has recently returned to his native Spokane, after a six year tour of duty in Iraq. His father, Tom Eckert (Brett Cullen) is the city’s chief of police.  Chris’s younger brother, Matt, (Josh Peck) looks up to his older brother, whom he thinks heroic.  The brothers, along with Danny (Edwin Hodge), Matt’s best friend, Robert (Josh Hutcherson), tech guru extraordinaire and Daryl (Connor Cruise) Robert’s best friend and the mayor’s son, are a close cadre and live and enjoy a relatively typical and happy existence in their small corner of the city. Matt has a girlfriend, Erica (Isabel Lucas) and then there’s the ‘no nonsense’ Toni (Adrianne Palicki) who has eyes for Chris.

One quiet morning, the city is besieged by air and on land, by a group of North Korean militia and Chris and company finds themselves prisoners under enemy occupation. Chris, determined to fight back at all costs, takes full command, because as he says, the fight is on their home turf and, “When you’re fighting for your family, it all hurts a little less and makes a little more sense.”  The group galvanizes and the games begin.

RED DAWN is an updated version of 1984 cult classic, which starred several teen icons of the 1980s. Of course, these were the waning days of Soviet Russia, but what with President Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union, an “evil empire,” the plot, in its day had great resonance.  Dan Bradley, making his directorial debut, has selected material that suits him.  His years of experience as stunt coordinator, serve him very well. As action films go, this is a perfectly adequate film, with impressive special effects, and all of the attendant trappings of the genre – tanks, AKA 47s and all manner of weapons, but for the faint of heart, take note. The film contains several protracted scenes that are very violent, some a bit gratuitous and ear plugs might come in handy, as well. The film, in Dolby 88, may have some scurrying for aspirin – the action scenes are exceedingly loud.  However, the cast deliver uniformly good performances, and, as is so often the case, there are the usual twists and turns and a few surprises.

The film’s fundamental concept would have made for an excellent political thriller.  However, Bradley says that, in comparison to its 1984 counterpart, the 2012 version of RED DAWN, the invasion seemed “an apt metaphor” for the unease Americans feel about the world today and opines that, “Americans just don’t feel as secure as they once were.”  Perhaps, without having heard of it, Americans are, increasingly, subscribing to chaos theory.

 RED DAWN opens in the UK on March 15th. 

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