Red Dawn (1984)

RED DAWN is set in the time of war, when the Soviet Union takes over the United States. When they capture many of the parents of one city’s youth, the teenagers band together to fight back against the Soviets and try to win their country back. The teenagers’ unofficial leader is Jed (Patrick Swayze), whose brother is Matt (Charlie Sheen). Other members of the guerrilla squad are Robert (C. Thomas Howell), and Erica (Lea Thompson) and Toni (Jennifer Grey), two girls picked up from friends to keep custody of. In such a rough time as war–how will they all survive?

Let me start off my critique by saying that the plot is absolutely ridiculous. The Soviet Union invading America? Okay. The soldiers capturing parents and leaving teenagers alone on their own? Fine. But those teenagers forming a GUERRILLA army to fight the Soviets? It’s unbelievably unrealistic. You can’t even fathom any possible way that this could happen. Other than that–the script is awful except for a few great one-liners (most of them given to the character of Robert). The movie is much too long and gets incredibly boring after a while. But, there’s some good in everything…

A few of the scenes in RED DAWN are incredibly powerful. The opening sequence of the soldiers sailing down onto the school campus is amazing, and I’ll never be able to forget the scene where the boys are driving away in the truck and one of their fathers is left behind. The boy shouts, “Papa! Papa!” And the father is calling out to his son, but the soldiers get him before the boy can. That’s heart-wrenching stuff right there. Also, after Jed and Matt see their father in the military camp, and basically any scene involving the teenagers’ parents, is great. It’s very touching and relatable, as well as the fact that is displays some fine acting. The acting is pretty good for the most part, but the actors really aren’t given a lot to work with. The action scenes are all pretty great, but unfortunately more of the focus is on the characters, which, in this case, is insanely boring.

RED DAWN is an okay war movie. If it had instead focused on the characters and them coping with the loss of their parents, that would have been a good movie, given that the elements I described were continued. But instead, this ridiculous plot is thrown in and drawn out. By the end, I really didn’t care what happened to the characters. There’s a couple of good displays of great acting (C. Thomas Howell in particular does very well, playing the best character in my opinion), and the action scenes are good–but this probably won’t interest most people.