This is a re-make of the 1984 film that was itself not critically acclaimed,
but still a guilty pleasure, as is this one. Of course it’s not very
believable. But it will get your patriotic juices flowing, and in an election
month, that can’t be all bad.
In the 1984 version, also set in the Pacific Northwest, we are suddenly
invaded by Russian troops. A group of high schoolers runs into the woods and
begins a guerilla movement, which gains momentum by its very audacity, even
among a cowed populace.
In the 2012 version, the invaders are North Koreans, but with Russian advisers
(never mind the political unlikelihood of that). It’s a World-War II type of
army that parachutes down, soldiers carrying rifles, using tanks and grenades
and, after they’ve taken over the town from the stunned civilian police,
begin setting up roadblocks and “informational meetings” to subdue the
hapless townsfolk. Not a drone in sight. Or a smart bomb. Or nukes, either.
Much less a computer.
But never mind the archaic military technology, either, the point is that
these kids (OK, not all of them look like teenagers because they aren’t)
must somehow find the courage within themselves to be the resistance. That
means, rather than doing everything decently and in order, instead being the
force of chaos and disruption. They do whatever they can to make the
occupiers’ work more difficult. And they’re wondering what happened to our
own vaunted military machine, which, it seems, was rendered ineffective by
some kind of electronic interference device.
Our precious little band of adolescent desperados have to undergo some
physical rigors together, as well as psychological deprivation. They have to
learn to hide in the shadows, and to be suddenly and remorselessly violent.
They have to struggle with deciding who’s in charge, and who has the
authority to discipline the group. They have to deal with traitors and the
weak-willed, but worst of all, they have to accept not only “collateral”
damage but also casualties within their beloved core group, in the name of
serving the greater cause of freedom.
Of course, we’d love to think that we all have this kind of remarkable
fighting spirit, but more than that, we’d love for our enemies to be so
recognizable and available. Here, the bad guys are conveniently arrayed in the
town square, and wearing uniforms. Who wouldn’t like to have a go at them?
Alas, in “real life” in 2012, the true terrorists are not nearly so
accessible. But we can fantasize, can’t we?
Well, yes, and “Red Dawn” is definitely a wave-the-flag-proudly kind of
fantasy, a guilty pleasure which many of us would pay the price of admission
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving,