I may be rubbing off on my children. We were browsing Netflix last weekend looking for something to watch and I came across 1984’s version of, “The Russians Are Coming” – though to be fair, it wasn’t a comedy. I’m talking about Red Dawn.
I wasn’t sure how my kids would handle such an old film, it wasn’t black and white, but they are leery of anything described as “awesome” by their parents. I had to explain the general state of mind in America at the time. And about the Sandinistas and Contras. They were game and we watched it. There were a lot of questions, but they loved it. So did I. The film is definitely 30 years old but the story was strong.
We talked about the remake. I was a bit skeptical that you could remake Red Dawn, it was, after all, about the Russians at a time when we were still afraid of them. Who commands that sort of fear now? The stateless terrorists? Nope. Even the veiled threat of China doesn’t wash in our house – what could the Chinese possibly gain by crippling their largest market?
I thought that was it. But it wasn’t. The next night they wanted to watch the remake. To “compare and contrast, Dad.” As a budding film student, I was on board, reservations about the film put aside in the name of study. My daughter insisted that her vote had nothing to do with Chris Hemsworth.
What I enjoyed most about the film was the running analysis/commentary by the young folks. “Oh, there’s that scene” and “Isn’t this about the time the pilot showed up last night?” offered mere minutes before the experienced fighting men arrived on screen. The second best part for me was the unanimous agreement that the original was far better. Not just better. Far better. They liked the 30 year old movie. The one without Chris Hemsworth.
It’s easy to see why. The driving antagonist in the film was fuzzy – while the original had a tired Cuban we got to know leading a scary Russian assault, the new one had a generic and 2 dimensional North Korean. Nobody is afraid of North Korea. There was no menace in the plot and no menace in the character. Instead of paratroopers landing on a football field we had a… football game.
The movie tried really, really, hard but failed miserably. I suspect that if they’d devoted a few more pages to story instead of profanity it would have been much better. But would it have been enough better? The world is a different place. It’s not a time for Red Dawn anymore.
When you hear the cry, “Wolverines” it will be inspired by the original and the remarkable performance of Patrick Swayze, not this sophomoric attempt to recapture the “glory days.”
I still rate the original as a great companion for popcorn. The new one gets a pass. You’ll feel better watching paint dry.