Red Dawn (2012)
Black Friday is one of the best days to go see a film. After one of the biggest eating days for most Americans all you want to do is hide your belly in your elastic waistband pants, along with your heart burn under a baggy shirt in a dark room with 100 of other binge eaters. Shopping on this day is never in my forecast but watching junk food action flicks is so I took my overstuffed self to the theater and decided that Red Dawn would suffice my craving. I first would like to preface that I hated the first one from the 80’s, I wasn’t expecting a mind blowing story, and if it wasn’t for the trailer that hooked me I wouldn’t be here. So lets get into why you shouldn’t over look this film…
Initial thoughts are simply it was entertaining, enjoyable, comical, and a great film to watch over the holiday weekend or any day for that matter. The story is simple, the U.S. is under attack by another nation or entity and in Anytown, USA there are a group of kids that uprise against the evil doers of the world and fight back giving hope to other cities and states to fight back and gain back control of their home. Is the story believable?… No, but who cares it screams patriotism and fighting for what is yours in a fun non-historic way. If you are looking for Saving Private Ryan then this is not the film for you so for all you cynics lay off the story and lets talk about some good juicy action.
The Special Effects were beyond decent. Better than most action films that get all the accolades. The gunfire and explosions mixed in with loud, in sync sound really surprised me. The underscore and pathos driven music really enveloped you as an audience member to care for the characters and their cause. I even teared up a bit during an intense scene when the two brothers played by Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck witnessed their father, Brett Cullen, being shot in the head. It wasn’t The Notebook type cry but a tear did balance delicately on my eyelid ready to plunge down my face in sorrow. Quickly swiping that off as I “fake sneezed” so no one was the wiser about my wet eyes. A finicky action note that I often give films is if you are going to involve the military please please please show the actors that are playing a man or woman in service, the training they need to look like they know how to hold and shoot a gun. If not I will analytically nitpick your entire film for things that are off and luckily for Dan Bradley I was impressed with the overall shooting technique that the actors displayed.
You want to know how to make me sick in the middle of your film and turn my eyes away and miss all of your, I’m sure, beautifully placed action? Two words… Shaky Cam. I cannot stand this technique let alone deal with it for a large portion of a film. Opening shot during a football game the shaky cam was introduced and as I rolled my eyes to avoid the vertigo I prayed that the whole film wasn’t like this. Thankfully my prayers were answered and the agony stopped. Here’s my issue, during most of the fight scenes and fast action this lovely Cam was used. Why? Through the chaos the fighting actually looked decent but I can’t tell because it was too shaky. How would you feel as a fight coordinator if you designed a seamless and stunning fight but then your director chose to shoot it with a shaky cam and on top of that the editor jump cuts the clutter into a complete mess? Well that’s what I felt a lot of the fight scenes entailed.
Here’s a question, when I tell you that I’m going to see Red Dawn, why do so many people wince and question that? Is it because of the first one? Is it because it seems hoaky? Is it because Thor is the lead? Let me actually back our famed hero Chris Hemsworth… don’t let his beefy studly exterior phase you, he is a good actor. His heart and fight throughout the film was intense and endearing. One of the best moments in Red Dawn was when … “SPOILER ALERT”.. after a needed victory, Hemsworth’s character gets shot by a sniper right in the head. My mouth dropped and stayed that way through the whole scene. You can’t kill one of the main characters? Oh, but yes they did. I love when surprises like this get delivered to my eyes. What made the killing even more heart wrenching is that up to this point you cared for him and his crew. So to see this unfold only made the vengeance that was about to ensue that more rewarding.
In the end the sufficiently cast crew was all around ok. No Oscar performances but no duds either. Josh Peck who played Hemsworth’s younger brother was ok, a little weeny but he did the job. Josh Hutchinson would have been a better choice but since he only reaches up to Hemsworth’s knee caps that likely hood of them being related quickly demised However Hutchinson was a fun character to add to the somewhat bland crew. The comedy sprinkled between the young rebels was laugh out loud type of humor and created spaces of joy. I love when my high action films have the humorous camaraderie dashed in there for it makes me more comfortable that I’m enjoying such a film with massive killings. And here is where the film took a slight dip to what I thought would be a sure winner as I left the theater. In the end of he film the brother makes a big “OohRah” speech which was the same one his late brother made earlier in the film. With the dramatic music in the back and the camera angle pointing up to make him seem heroic just all seemed super cheesy. I could have dealt without that so when I say that you should go see this film, I want you to delete that scene from your mind and forget that it was ever even thought of, and then you will say that you saw a great action film. Typical in these types of films the ending is open for a sequel. So if director Dan Bradley takes the bait and does the sequel, my words of advice to him would be: Keep the high energy that you have created with the action sequences, keep your authenticity, have fun with the fights, show me something new, lose the shaky cam, the G-rated speeches, and most importantly keep your essence always in the filming for it is the very reason I went to see Red Dawn in the first place..because of you.
If you want to engulf yourself in an amusing, lively, action flick then I highly recommend Red Dawn.