Making the Grades
The US Military confronts invading aliens all the time in the movies. So I suppose it makes sense that a bunch of high school football players should be able to front the battle if only North Koreans land on American soil.
When the lights go out in the sleepy town of Spokane Washington, quarterback Matt Eckert (Josh Peck) and his older brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth), who is home on leave, don’t think much about it. However, when bombs and fatigue-wearing paratroopers begin dropping from the sky the next morning, they quickly realize this isn’t a launch for a new pizza shop.
Their Dad, police chief Tom Eckert (Brett Cullen), sends his two sons and their friends (Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise, Adrianne Palicki, Edwin Hodge) to hide in the family cabin in the woods. But after North Korean commander Captain Lo shoots their father in the head, the Eckert brothers are done hiding. Using his military training, Jed drills his brother and friends on the use of assault weapons and guerilla warfare, and then mounts a counter attack that would make any terrorist leader proud.
If this sounds like a plot full of potential holes (and not just from the bullets), you’re right. But this remake of the 1984 film (starring Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Lea Thompson) takes itself far less seriously than the John Millus’ movie did. It offers humor, missteps and an underlying sense of absurdity amidst the exploding cars and rounds of live ammunition. These kids’ experience with warfare is limited to Call of Duty and once they realize they’re living the video game, it “sucks”. Still, if you’re okay with the preposterous, then who better to rally the flagging spirits of a defeated town than gun-pumping high school students chanting the name of their school mascot: Wolverines, Wolverines, Wolverines!
Unfortunately for teen viewers, this script is pelted with profanities including rapid-fire scatological slang and a couple of strong sexual expletives. It also contains copious amounts of shooting, explosions and car crashes but relatively little amounts of blood and gore. Even the scene of Chief Eckert’s death is as sanitized as many video games. The most disturbing moment for many audience members may be the killing of a deer for dinner. (Mow down endless legions of humans but don’t shoot Bambi!)
Although the young actors deserve credit for their earnest efforts, don’t expect much more. While Red Dawn comes with a political statement about the state of the country’s defense, even it may get lost in this display of adolescent fervor that is usually reserved for home coming weekend.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Red Dawn.
Jed just returned from a tour of duty in a war zone. How likely is it that he would sleep through the invasion? What sounds, etc, do soldiers need to be attuned to in order to survive?
Why are channels of communication a vital link during a battle? Why are some people imprisoned in the town while others are allowed to walk free?
In the 1984 movie Red Dawn, Soviets were the invaders. Now it is the North Koreans. Does this reflect changes in world politics? How is the nationality of the villains the moviemakers choose influenced in a global society where they want to be able to sell their films to other countries?