Even if you accept the preposterous high concept that a Communist coalition led by North Korea would actually invade and attempt to occupy the United States, “Red Dawn” will still find ways to make you question its logic.
“Red Dawn” gets into its teen “American Resistance” premise quickly. One night, there’s a blackout. The next morning, enough communist paratroopers to occupy Spokane. Somehow, our North Korean invaders were able to completely disable our armed forces’ response capability and land on American soil unmolested. They quickly set up occupation and begin broadcasting propaganda.
Meanwhile, a small handful of young people have taken to the hills, and begin to mount a resistance movement. Catching the North Korean occupiers unprepared, they’re able to capitalize on the element of surprise and engage in some successful raids. Upgrading their weaponry as they go, the Wolverines (named after their high school mascot) mount an effective campaign of harassment. Led by the Eckert brothers (Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck) and their respective romantic interests (Adrianne Palicki and Isabel Lucas), the small guerilla force makes quite a name for themselves. Eventually they’re sought out by the official resistance, represented by Lt. Col. Andy Tanner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It’s then they learn that the North Koreans were able to employ a new technological weapon that rendered our defenses inert, enabling them to march right in. The Wolverines, however, can strike a crippling blow… by stealing a box that holds the key to the technology.
My main (but certainly not my only) problem with “Red Dawn” is that I could not stop questioning the events I was seeing. I’m as happy as the next person to shut off my brain and enjoy a movie, but in this case, I found it impossible. Even if North Korea did simultaneously shut down all of our electronic weaponry, wouldn’t a wiser assault plan have been to concentrate their paratroopers in places where an armed resistance was most likely? Military bases and such? High population zones? What kind of a strategy would include occupying… suburbs and small cities immediately? If they’re going to set up interment camps, why were some people sent there and others allowed to roam the streets freely? Seriously, there’s a Subway open at one point (Woot! Product Placement! WOLVERINES!!). How did the evil Captain Cho know who their parents were? Why didn’t Cho send troops into the woods to scout for them, seeing as the Wolverines were giving him so much trouble? They were just completely safe whenever they hit the treeline. America has one of the most well armed populaces in the world, why were these kids the only ones shoo - – gah… alright, you get the idea. I could go on though, trust me.
In the 80s, during the cold war, this high concept was still laughable, but at least it was slightly more worthy of conjecture. Back then, there was very much a pervading “Us vs Them” air… so the question “What if THEY invaded?” was far more worthy of conjecture. Perhaps the film’s credibility wouldn’t have suffered so much if they had stuck with the Chinese. It’s doubtful that even then they could have gotten the magic “Disable All Military” box past audiences, but… oh well. Regardless, I was fully prepared to be content watching a bunch of photogenic young people shooting stuff and blowing things up, in spite of massive plot holes and logical incongruities. But in the third act, there’s a spoilerific WTF?! moment that I felt was totally unearned, and completely soured whatever grace I had been preparing to show this movie.
There’s little worth fighting for here people.