The premise of “Red Dawn,” a remake of the 1984 cult classic, is that the United States has been invaded by North Korea, and one marine (Chris Hemsworth of “Thor”) and a group of plucky high schoolers take to the hills to conduct guerilla warfare against the evil invaders.
The best thing that can be said about “Red Dawn” is that the pace isn’t lazy. Indeed, the movie moves along at a dizzy, disorienting speed. The worst thing that can be said is that the gaping plot holes are made less noticeable by the pace and the overriding question, “Is this entire movie racist?”
The evidence for racism: The premise of the movie is that the United States has been invaded by North Korea. That means that every evil character (with the exception of one enormous Russian) is Asian. The black mayor sells out to the Koreans early on while the white sheriff stands for his morals. Every major good character is white. The only black character that isn’t either dead or a coward ends up left in the woods while the remaining white characters drive away.
The evidence against: There’s an Asian marine who shows up to help.
Plot holes and racism aside, “Red Dawn” only has one redeeming feature in Chris Hemsworth himself. In one scene, Hemsworth’s character sits on a bridge with his love interest, Toni (Adrianne Palicki), talking about their past lives. The dialogue is awkwardly written and should have been uncomfortable, but it wasn’t. Hemsworth’s smiles and charisma carry him through the scene and somehow turn the awkward conversation into something resembling poignancy.
Unfortunately, an action movie can only dedicate a small amount of time to a talented actor, and “Red Dawn” quickly fills its quota and returns to the action. With fewer racial undertones and better writing, it could be a successful TV show. A show could have stretched out the areas that “Red Dawn” is forced to skip over. It could take the time to get rid of the subtle (and perhaps accidental) racism. The concept of post-invasion American life has been done before, but it remains a compelling possibility.
But as a movie? Don’t waste your time.
Rating: 1 1/2 stars out of 5