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"Red Dawns:" One of the Wolverines or Watching Excitedly?
“Red Dawn” debuted in 1984 when Cold War nuclear weapon stockpile rivalries centered on Russia (U.S.S.R.), China and the United States. Spurred by a Russian attempt to place missiles in Cuba in the early 60s, most worst case warfare scenarios involved surviving the aftermath of nuclear strikes on large cities. Jed (Patrick Swayze) drops off his younger brother Matt (Charlie Sheen) at school when shortly thereafter Soviet paratroopers land at the school’s football field. Jed , Matt and other teens head for the mountains where they hope to outlast the invaders.
The finally released re-make which had been trapped in a studio’s bankruptcy vault, adequately imports post 9/11 fears into a homeland invasion from the immature and rogue leadership of North Korea. A shock and awe sunrise attack precipitates the mandatory rush to the woodlands by the brothers (now played by Chris (“Thor) Hensworth and Josh Peck ). Removing the rag tag spontaneity from the original, Hensworth’s character has just returned from the Iraq conflict, which provides the thesis of U.S. troops so scattered on foreign soils to leave the 48 at risk.
Having laid out these perfunctory setups, comparison should wrap, except that the 1984 version develops from the intimacy of a small group of teens facing the occupation of the U.S. while the 2012 release opts for action and explosives. It’s an apples to oranges, six of twelve half dozen of the other option. Expectations shift from an untrained bunch of kids inflicting surprise raids to a guerilla band with Marine led “tough choices” training “creating chaos” on small town streets.
Which works best? The expository , limitations and developed personas of the earlier version passes emotional response to surprise governmental take over premise. I keep asking “what happened” and follow up “whys” watching the disciplined run, shoot, recovery operations by Hensworth’s sharp shooting troops. Casualties mount but “I care’s” stay with the shallowly BF/GF relationship between Matt and Erica (Isabel Lucas). Vehicle battering and pyrotechnics aside, I’m was one of the original Wolverines; now, I’m just watching.