RED DAWN (2012)

"Fighting for Liberty"

Content: -1 Discretion advised for older children.

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What You Need To Know:

In RED DAWN, Chris Hemsworth of THOR leads a ragtag team of teenage guerrilla fighters. With Josh Peck as Hemsworth’s younger brother, the teenagers fight an invasion of Northwest America by North Korean communists. They get secret help from some of their fellow Americans being oppressed by the communist regime controlling Spokane, Washington. They start calling themselves “the Wolverines.” Their resistance movement gets stronger when they capture Korean weapons and explosives. During one mission, however, the younger brother endangers everyone’s life when he sees a chance to rescue his girlfriend. She’s being detained as a political prisoner.

RED DAWN is a rousing, exciting war movie about Americans fighting for American liberty. Led by the talented Chris Hemsworth, the acting helps sell the drama. In fact, it nearly carries the action-packed plot and almost always engages the viewer. RED DAWN is Pro-American, patriotic and anti-communist. It extols fighting for liberty. In one scene, it even mocks leftist attacks on American capitalism. That said, the movie could have used some strong religious elements. Also, RED DAWN has plenty of foul language, so caution is advised.


(BB, C, PPP, ACACAC, LLL, VV, S, A, M) Strong moral worldview with some redemptive content, including an element of sacrifice and a positive mention of general prayer, plus very strong Pro-American, patriotic, anti-communist, anti-fascist, anti-leftist elements extolling American liberty and opposing government tyranny and oppression; about 56 obscenities (including many “h” words, many “s” words, and one “f” word), four strong profanities, four strong profanities, and an obscene gesture is given to a communist collaborator; strong, intense war and action violence with light, infrequent blood includes character gets shot in head (not extremely graphic), gunshot heard of another character getting executed in the head, small wound sewn up, gunfights, explosions, vehicles crash during two chase scenes; no sex scenes but one light reference teenage football quarterback mentions getting some kind of vague (at least in the dialogue) teenage sexual experiences (he wants more than just a kiss but doesn’t say what exactly) in the future from girlfriend, who acts coy about it, plus brief teenage and adult kissing; no nudity; alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, some Americans collaborate with tyrannical communist invaders but it’s rebuked, teenagers enlist in guerrilla war fighting, collaborator steals potential freedom fighters’ food stash.

More Detail:

RED DAWN is one of the best movies of 2012. It’s a worthy remake of the classic 1984 Reagan-era movie by screenwriter and director John Milius (the Dirty Harry movie MAGNUM FORCE, THE WIND AND THE LION, APOCALYPSE NOW, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, FAREWELL TO THE KING, ROUGH RIDERS).* Though the remake doesn’t hit all the political points in John’s original movie, it’s still a rousing war movie with very strong Pro-American, patriotic, anti-communist content. Regrettably, there’s a lot of foul language.

Like the original, the new movie opens with news reports of a tense world situation. Another big recession hits the world economy. There are internal problems in Russia. Also, there’s renewed tension between the United States, its ally South Korea, and North Korea’s communist dictators.

Cut to young Matt Eckart, quarterback of a high school team in Spokane, Washington called the Wolverines. Matt follows his high school football coach’s orders to kick a field goal instead of running another play in the final moments. However, the kick misses and the Wolverines lose the game that could have put them into the state championships.

After the game, Matt’s girlfriend, Erica, tries to cheer him up. They head for a local restaurant with a bar. At the bar, Matt’s older brother, Jed, a Marine on leave, is lightly flirting (in a nonsexual way) with a woman named Toni, an old childhood friend of the family’s. Matt and Jed’s widowed father is a policeman for the city.

The next morning, Matt and Jed wake up to find North Korean soldiers parachuting into Spokane. The soldiers capture their father and Erica. After an intense chase scene, Matt and Jed escape with some of Matt’s fellow football players. Before he’s captured, their father tells them to head for the family’s hunting cabin in the woods.

At the cabin, Jed takes control as the boys break out the cabin’s food, hunting rifles, and one or two handguns. They all spend the night in the cabin. The next morning, the others find that two of the guys have taken off with all the food. Jed orders everyone to leave the cabin. They get out just in time as a few North Korean soldiers led by a Captain Cho arrive at the cabin. Along with them are Jed and Matt’s father, and the father of one of the other boys.

Using a bullhorn, the other father tries to convince his son and the others to surrender. He tells them nothing will happen to them, even though they hurt some of the North Koreans during their escape the day before. Then, Matt and Jed’s father is given the bullhorn. At first, it appears as if he’s going to say something similar to the mayor; but then, he tells his sons to fight back and kill Captain Cho. In response, Cho executes him on the spot.

Thinking that the boys may already be long gone, Cho leaves with the mayor and his troops. Meanwhile, Jed leads the teenagers to a more secure camp deep in the woods. He gives a rousing, but realistic, speech urging them to fight back with him:

“When you’re fighting in your own back yard, when you’re fighting for your family, it all hurts a little less and makes a little more sense. That’s our biggest advantage. For them, this is just a place. For us, this is our home.”

Soon, Jed and his band of guerrilla fighters, including Toni and two other females, are making inroads against the North Koreans. Helping them are some Pro-American spies in the city. Jed’s little army starts calling themselves “the Wolverines,” after their football team’s mascot. Their resistance movement gets even stronger when they start capturing Korean weapons and explosives.

During one mission, however, Jed’s brother Matt endangers everyone’s life when he sees a chance to rescue his girlfriend Erica. What happens next makes for a very exciting, powerful war movie about fighting for American liberty.

The new RED DAWN seems a little less corny than the original. Though the political scenario opening the story still is a bit far-fetched, it’s a rousing action movie with a lot of exciting, suspenseful battle scenes. The acting by THOR’s Chris Hemsworth as Jed and Josh Peck as Jed’s brother Matt is excellent. Their performances make the movie more compelling than it would have been otherwise. Their acting helps carry the plot and often engages the viewer. The rest of the cast does a really good job as well. That includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan (from TV’s GREY’S ANATOMY), who plays a Marine sent by the remnants of the United States government to help the Wolverines. Morgan takes the role that Powers Boothe had in the original.

One of the only complaints we have is that some of the action in RED DAWN is shot with too many close ups. Also, not everything goes the heroes’ way, but that’s true of many great American war movies during Hollywood’s Golden Age, including MOVIEGUIDE®’s favorite SERGEANT YORK starring Gary Cooper.

The good news is that RED DAWN has a strong moral worldview with very strong Pro-American, patriotic and anti-communist sentiments. In one scene, the movie mocks left-wing attacks on America’s capitalist system. That scene shows the North Korean leaders, who are getting support from a reconstituted Communist Russia, telling an American crowd that they are victims of Wall Street pirates and capitalist greed.

On the not-so-good side, though the movie has one positive reference to praying, there are no other religious references to America’s Christian, biblical heritage. Also, RED DAWN has too much foul language. The foul language warrants some caution, especially for younger viewers. Despite this, RED DAWN presents a rare opportunity of a new movie from Hollywood that Americans can use to discuss with their families our heritage of liberty and faith.

As Jewish American author and pundit Dennis Prager notes in his new book, STILL THE BEST HOPE, each America coin has the words Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum (“Out of Many One”) written on it. As Jesus notes in Mark 12:17, “Render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render under God the things that are God’s.” Of course, in America, the government isn’t headed by a Caesar, despite what many U.S. presidents may have thought and practiced in our history. Instead, in America, the people are supposed to be Caesar. Thus, it’s “We the People” of the United States who elect our political leaders. Furthermore, these leaders are supposed to serve the People and American liberty, not themselves, while putting their trust in God at the same time.

By the way, RED DAWN has a great tagline: “Welcome to the Home of the Brave.” It lives up to that tagline, so readers probably should pay no attention to most of what the mainstream, leftist, secular film critics might say negatively about this movie.

* Milius also wrote some of the best, most memorable dialogue in the original DIRTY HARRY and JAWS. He also reportedly came up with the Dirty Harry line, “Go ahead, make my day” in 1983’s SUDDEN IMPACT, often considered the second best, most entertaining Dirty Harry movie next to the first one.