There’s a healthy amount of “suspension of disbelief” that is needed to enjoy some films. You shelter your mind from the illogical scenarios and allow yourself to drift into a fantastical world. Then there are films like last year’s Red Dawn, a remake to the 1984 Swayze vehicle about a Russian invasion of America, that would require a “suspension of disbelief” bordering on decapitation in order to envelope yourself within the confines of the film world. Somehow I never got around to adding the 80’s Red Dawn to my “must watch” list, but I like to think it had more to do with bad luck than it did because the movie is terrible. Nonetheless, Red Dawn has joined the ranks of mediocre/cult movies that have been remade into terrible, terrible, terrible films. Perfectly enjoyable 80’s fare such as Fame, Conan the Barbarian, Footloose, and Evil Dead have all recently been remade into the same generic sludge that premieres in theaters every weekend, and 2012’s Red Dawn is no exception to that established trend.
Red Dawn was originally supposed to be about a Chinese invasion of America, but somewhere along the line (and after they reportedly shot a number of scenes with the Chinese as the enemy) the powers that be realized the film would probably not have a very good response if/when it played in China. Good call on that one chaps! So, they spent more than a million bucks to change the story and depict North Korea as a global powerhouse that is responsible for conquering all of America. Okay, well Russia does play a part in this too, but it’s all very mysterious what kind of influence Moscow has on the proceedings. We do see some big white Russiany looking guys popping into the story from time to time to check on North Korea, sort of like an overbearing mother peeking into her child’s room to make sure they aren’t playing a violent videogame or watching porn or smoking crack or doing whatever it is that kids do these days that they shouldn’t be doing. But we barely see any evidence of Russia anywhere, so we have to assume North Korea is running shit all over America, right? Or I guess we could assume Russia is in control of everything and simply tasked North Korea with invading and controlling Spokane, Washington? Who knows? There are waay too many assumptions and plot holes to address right now so let’s just avoid that for a bit. Please don’t bother asking yourself things like, “What could be the strategic importance of invading Spokane, Washington?” because questions like that will lead you to dark, dark places from which there lay no answers.
Anyway, so… North Korea… yeah. Okay… so…hmmm… let’s break this down, shall we? In 1984’s Red Dawn, Russia invades the States. That is horribly implausible, but at least Russia was our greatest “sparring partner” of sorts during the Cold War, they had a large and technologically advanced military, and they had many years of (successful) experience fighting in wars. We can even reasonably attribute those same characteristics to China (of course with the exception of being our greatest Cold War enemy), and an invasion would at least be putting two countries against each other who are within the REALM of similar military strength (though, of course, the United States is still much more militarily powerful).
Okay, okay, okay, but now the enemy is North Korea. North Korea. North Korea! Think about that for a second. North Korea. This is the North Korea that while, yes, it does have the fourth largest standing army, but it also has endemic issues that prevent it from ever mounting an assault on the most powerful military in the world. Simple little things like poverty, a poor/non-existent education system, and the fact that they are horribly lagging in EVERY TECHNOLOGICAL AREA WHEN COMPARED TO THE STATES. North Korea. The country that can’t feed its people… that has no money… that is about twenty years away from having the awesome technology of twenty years ago. North Korea.
DOES ANYONE THINK FOR A FUCKING SECOND IT IS EVEN REMOTELY POSSIBLE FOR NORTH KOREA TO INVADE AND CONQUER ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL OF THE UNITED STATES IN A FUCKING DAY!??!!?!?!?
So, the film opens and there are a few moments before the invasion when we get to enjoy some stilted character development watching Thor (Chris Hemsworth) come home from being a Marine in the Middle East and reuniting with his high school quarterback All-American brother Matt (Josh Peck [depending on whether you had cable or watched a lot of indie movies will determine if you remember him from Nickelodeon’s Josh and Drake or 2008’s pleasant coming-of-age story, The Wackness]) and perpetual police-dad Chris Cooper. Mama died just prior to Thor being deployed six years ago and apparently this is his first time coming home. And Whoa! Apparently little Bro is still a bit resentful about that. DRAMA! CRAZY DRAMA! THIS IS SOME INTENSE BACKSTORY SHIT GUYS. HOLY SHIT. I’M FUCKING REALLY READY FOR A NORTH KOREAN INVASION NOW THAT I KNOW YOU TWO BROTHERS ARE SO LIKE NOT COMFORTABLE AROUND EACH OTHER AND SHIT. Okay, and there’s also the fact that these are the two brothers:
They do not look anything alike! They are just about complete opposites! There is nothing similar at all between these two! Are they adopted?! Why is one built like a Norse God and the other is Schlubs City? THEY LOOK NOTHING ALIKE!
So, after a “mysterious” black-out, the boys awake the following day to the rumbles and explosions that signify an assault by the North Korean military. It’s difficult to properly express the level of insanity that is on display as the boys step outside and see a sky dotted with North Korean parachutists floating down from the heavens and blasting anyone they see with their SMG’s. Okay, so the reason that an entire country was able to sneak up on America was because the North Korean’s set off some sort of EMP bomb that wiped out (apparently) every single electronic device. Alright, whatever, that’s completely illogical and impossible for its own sake, but also because – WHAT THE FUCK – this isn’t like Canada attacking us from across the border or something, this is NORTH KOREA. We’re not talking about some small town in Nebraska, we’re talking about a country ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD. YOU CAN’T JUST SNEAK AN ENTIRE MILITARY ACROSS THE WORLD WITHOUT SOMEONE FUCKING NOTICING.
Whatevs. Whatevs. Whatevs.
So, we follow the boys as they drive over a couple Koreans (who seem a bit too surprised to be in America for hardened soldiers) and rescue a few of their amigos. Of course, Matt happens to be dating the one girl who for some unexplained reason is PERSONALLY being taken captive by the North Korean commander of the Spokane area. Yeah, yeah, okay, that’s fine. That makes no fucking sense at all, but whatevs!
And the lunacy goes on and on and on. Some choice curiosities though:
Where is the response from the rest of the world? Do they actually condone North Korea and Russia invading and occupying the States?
Thor gives a great speech about fighting back against evil invading forces and positively compares their predicament with past historical situations involving the Minutemen, the Viet Cong, and other small rebellious groups. Okay, that’s all well and good and dandy, but Thor, you are a marine… who just returned from some unknown Middle Eastern country… who was likely fighting the Taliban or a similar group. Doesn’t it seem just a *bit* disingenuous to make a grand speech about fighting the good fight against evil dirty invaders and NOT bring up the locals you were just fighting against?
Being a marine means you are not only an expert on guerrilla warfare, but an amazing enough teacher to transform high school kids into an elite destructive killing force.
A tracking device is imbedded in one rebel; Matt is able to instantly determine this after the rebel lifts his shirt and reveals a small cut.
Then there’s that final shot. That final scene when the rebels use tanks, assault rifles, rocket launchers and other advanced weaponry to free the imprisoned Americans. The Americans run to the newly formed hole in the prison wall: yelling, screaming with joy, and laughing with merriment. And from the middle of the crowd of prisoners a giant American flag is raised. On a flag pole. A giant American flag. REALLY? REALLY? So, these prisoners have somehow been hiding a giant American flag ON A FUCKING FLAG POLE the entire time they have been under the watchful eye of the North Koreans? Really? Really? REALLY?
So, all in all, a terrible film. A terrible, terrible, terrible, illogical film.
But there really is nothing like seeing a bunch of Chinese – err whoops, I meant North Koreans, parachute-attacking into the Middle American suburbs. It makes no sense, none at all, but at the end of the day, it’s entertaining in a horrible, trainwreck kind of way. The real problem with this film is that it truly is frightening. No, no, nothing about the actual film is frightening, no nothing like that. It’s frightening because there will be people who watch this and actually believe there is even an iota of a chance for this to happen.
Now that’s a terrifying thought.