America needs to be destroyed. We’re done. The rot started long ago, but reached its terminal stage in late 2008 during what David Stockman called “the single most shameful chapter in American financial history.” She has been limping along ever since, pretending that everything is still ok, and that the bruises on her arms mean that Wall Street loves her; he just has a hard time expressing it properly. Meanwhile, her situation continues to deteriorate, her mental state becomes increasingly suspect, and her delusions become more grandiose and disturbing. The sadness we feel in response to her plight slowly turns to anger, then contempt, then resignation at the fact that she allows herself to be treated this way. Underneath it all, we realize that she likes this. It turns her on, and as a result, nothing will ever change.
As Chuck Norris said in Invasion USA, “It’s time.”
But even though her fall is inevitable, America deserves a better death than one at the hands of North Korea. To end her reign in such an ignominious fashion would be analogous to Genghis Khan dying from a papercut. Yet, in this realm of cinematic fantasy, we find ourselves viewing what is only the first film in Hollywood’s 2012-2013 North Korean duology. We find ourselves viewing definitive proof of the irrefutable fact that America is beyond all redemption. We find ourselves viewing the remake of Red Dawn.
Why remake Red Dawn? Well, they had the rights to the property. It doesn’t matter that the original Red Dawn was a film that was a product of its time. The story must be retold not because it is relevant to any contemporary geopolitical developments, but because every other movie from the 80’s is either being remade or given an unnecessary belated sequel. It’s just what we do today.
The original film was a Cold War tale set in a dystopian near future where the omnipresent fear of Soviet domination came true, and the USSR successfully invaded the USA with the help of their Cuban pawns. It also kind of sucked. However, at least the original film came from the heart of John Milius. You knew that whenever the trite platitudes about American freedom blared across the soundtrack, John meant every word of them. It was endearing. Now, we have this soulless attempt at recapturing the magic without John’s demented genius. Why? Why have we been reduced to this as a country? Why do we allow this garbage on our cinema screens and in our homes? Why do I watch it?
God help me.
However, viewing this film is easier than one would expect, for this is a story told almost entirely through montages and vignettes. At no point do we have any real need to engage with the film as there is nothing to engage with. It is a story played in fast forward to accommodate a brisk 93 minute runtime. Some portions of the film were not viewed, but were only heard as I either texted my friend about an upcoming Eyes Wide Shut screening, or played “Pingus”, an open source version of “Lemmings”, in another window.
“Pingus” is much more entertaining than Red Dawn.
But yes, this is a film where the Cubans have been replaced by the North Koreans, the Russians have masterminded the invasion for reasons unexplained, and the War on Terror that has dominated our political discourse for the past dozen years is barely mentioned. In an effort to prove how terrible and unnecessary this film was, I am going to write the rest of this review in the patented Ruthless Reviews “80’s Action” format. You might say that this is just because I am a shitty writer, and you would be right, but the point of this exercise is to attempt to elucidate the failures of this film by showing its deficiencies in comparison to its source material. In other words, I am going to finish writing a terrible and unnecessary review of this terrible and unnecessary film. So, without further ado, let us begin.
Red Dawn (2012)
Heroes Are Made In America.
Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence
North Korea invades Who Gives A Shit, WA.
Everybody wears pants throughout this entire movie. Even the women! Nobody takes their shirt off at any point. It’s all very asexual and chaste, as only by embracing our Puritan heritage will we overcome the evildoers that invade our shores. There was a brief bit early on where two girls shared a friendly, not-on-the-lips kiss, but I was so bored and disinterested already that no sexual arousal was experienced.
I’m not watching this garbage a second time to count the deaths. I have a lot of other garbage already booked in my busy schedule. But all of the deaths were sanitized and unsatisfying. I’m marking it zero.
How Bad Is It Really?
The two main characters, Chris Hemsworth’s character and his younger brother, awake to find America being invaded by a horde of North Korean paratroopers. After a harrowing chase sequence, they crash into and disable the North Korean vehicles that were in pursuit of their car as well as their friends’ cars. The movie shows them driving away from the crash and immediately cuts to them driving up to their cabin in the forest. Really? There were no other vehicles available to pursue them? The North Koreans have no helicopters or airplanes to follow their cars? How did the paratroopers get there? Were they warped in using teleporters from the alternate dimension of Command & Conquer: Red Alert? What the fuck is going on?
In similar fashion, the Wolverines magically teleport from the forest to the city, bypassing all roadblocks through their usage of futuristic technology. The film cuts from the Wolverines in the forest, to the Wolverines in the city pulling a terrorist attack, back to the Wolverines in their hideout. Hey North Korea, you’re supposed to prevent people from entering or leaving your occupied territories. Hitler would be ashamed of you.
Pretty much all of the black and Hispanic people die. The mayor’s son lives, but he is abandoned when it is determined that he was stabbed with a tracking device. America really comes together when the chips are down.
The North Koreans, who have trained for nearly their entire lives in the military, exhibit less accuracy than Barney Fife. The North Koreans stage a invasion of the continental United States, despite the fact that according to the opening credit sequence, North and South Korea have apparently been engaged in a war, with American forces aiding the South Koreans. The Russians put the North Koreans up to it because Kim Jong-Un was like, “Ok. Whatever.” Hillary Clinton’s face is glimpsed briefly.
I don’t know how bad it is, but it’s not good.
In a nod, perhaps, to the original film, this remake features little in the way of one-liners. It’s all down to business and serious about protecting the Homeland from the North Korean menace. Just as the original film preceded Swayze’s “Tails again!” period by several years, so, too, will we have to wait several years until Chris Hemsworth finally brings about world peace by glibly stating, “Hammer time!”
Stupid Political Content
The North Koreans state at one point that they have invaded America for its own good, as America has embraced a culture of “greed, irresponsibility, and fraud”. It’s that American decadence causing our downfall yet again. And it’s relevant because they had some stuff on the news about greed, right? Am I right, guys?
There is the expected usage of the term “insurgents” by the North Koreans, in an effort to draw an oh-so-topical parallel between the War on Terror and this story. Hey, the Americans are the terrorists in this story! Did you ever hear that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter? I think I heard it in a YouTube clip once. Whoa, man. Fucking deep.
At one point, Chris Hemsworth’s character narrates, “We inherited our freedom.” I don’t think this man understands genetics.
Finally, there is the idea that NORTH KOREA IS CAPABLE OF INVADING THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. I mean, holy shit. Why don’t they just have the Martians invade? Actually, why not just have the Islamic terrorists establish their New Caliphate? At least that might have been marginally relevant, as implausible as it would have been.
Nobody turns themselves into white guys like in Die Another Day, though. Thank the Lord for small mercies.
The PG-13 rating robs the film not only of its novelty deaths, but of its headshots. At the end of the film, Chris Hemsworth’s character tells the main bad guy, “You fucked with the wrong family.” He then pulls the trigger, shooting the bad guy in the face as the camera remains on him. We wouldn’t want to see any grey matter now! The kids might be grossed out!
I realize that the usage of the word “fucked” implies that the rating was in fact R, not PG-13. Perhaps this was the unrated version. It’s still ridiculous either way. Why not just have the bad guy shot with a Super Soaker filled with urine? They showed a Super Soaker earlier in the movie. What better way to deal with a big meanie head like him?
Was There An Atomic Blast At The End?
No. At one point in the film, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character states that North Korea hit the major population centers with “tactical non-nuke warheads”. Nuclear weapons are not even mentioned in this movie! The film concludes with the Wolverines storming a detainment camp as their name is chanted in the background. It’s always a sign of a well-written story when, rather than starting in medias res, it ends there.
What You Learned
Thor wasn’t all that bad.
I should have watched The Cabin in the Woods for the 10th time instead.
You can tell a Blocker to Jump or Bash to unlock them instead of blowing them up.
North Korea is fucking lame, bro.