A new Dawn, but not a brighter day

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

FTER North Korean para­troop­ers in­vade his home­town in Washington state, high-school quar­ter­back Matt (Josh Peck) says, ‘‘North Korea? That doesn’t make sense.’’

Nei­ther does much else in this jerry-rigged re­make, which has been idling for three years, a vic­tim of MGM’s money trou­bles.

In the orig­i­nal Red Dawn , a 1984 ac­tion flick star­ring Pa­trick Swayze and Char­lie Sheen, a group of high­school­ers es­cape in­vad­ing Rus­sians and form an un­der­dog guer­rilla army called the Wolver­ines.

In the new ver­sion, Chris Hemsworth ( Thor ) plays Matt’s older brother, a Marine re­cently back from Iraq, and Josh Hutch­er­son (Peeta in The Hunger Games ) is their side­kick.

The film shouldn’t be com­pared to the orig­i­nal, be­cause its teen tar­get au­di­ence doesn’t care. Ditto on the film’s yawn­ing credulity gaps: Av­er­age kids be­come hard­ened sol­diers with weapons ex­per­tise in a mat­ter of days; com­plicit towns­peo­ple fun­nel end­less mu­ni­tions their way; North Korea has some­how over­pow­ered the en­tire United States (LOL).

The plot is too mud­dled and the characters too thinly drawn to carry the emo­tional punch neeeded to over­come its flaws. On the sur­face, there’s plenty here to sat­isfy a teen au­di­ence. The Wolver­ines ram en­emy ve­hi­cles, rig bombs to skate­boards and im­press ma­cho marines with their awe­some­ness.

Di­rec­tor Dan Bradley, a former stunt­man, knows how to stage an ac­tion scene, although a lot of it is dif­fi­cult to see due to an­noy­ingly shaky cam­er­a­work. And clumsy di­a­logue is buoyed by the un­fore­seen star power of Hemsworth and Hutch­er­son, both cast be­fore their break­out pic­tures were made.

Although Hemsworth doesn’t have Swayze’s ef­fort­less charm, his per­for­mance as the group’s leader is im­pres­sive, es­pe­cially given the lame lines he must de­liver. Peck, with his goof­ball nerd per­sona, and Hutch­er­son, who shows pre-Peeta war­rior chops, should have switched roles.

In the orig­i­nal movie, the Soviet and Cuban forces ef­fec­tively played on the real-life Cold War para­noia of the time. In the re­make, the en­e­mies were at first Chi­nese, but pro­duc­ers feared alien­at­ing au­di­ences and in­vestors in China, so they changed all re­lated sym­bols and di­a­logue to Korean af­ter film­ing wrapped. Re­gard­less of which na­tion they’re sup­posed to rep­re­sent, the in­vaders come off as not much more than cutout ri­fle-range tar­gets.

Even with the high-oc­tane pro­vided by fre­quent car crashes, gun­fire and ex­plo­sions, the over­all ef­fect is as wooden as the sin­gle fa­cial ex­pres­sion of Connor Cruise (Tom Cruise’s son, who plays a Wolver­ine).

If shootouts, bomb blasts and re­morse­less killing are all you’re af­ter, stay home and play Halo 4 .

opens to­day.

Chri Hemsworth (cen­tre) stars in

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