Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Red Dawn (1984)

Red Dawn is another film from the '80s that many people view with fondness. It could be to do with the ridiculously entertaining plot - America is invaded and a bunch of teens become formidable guerrilla warriors. It could be to do with the cast, which includes a lot of great youngsters with support from dependable old hands such as Harry Dean Stanton, Ben Johnson and Powers Boothe. Or it could just be the very, well, eighties-ness of it all. Having somehow never seen the film until now, I don't have the rosy tint of nostalgia to cloud my judgment. I can still enjoy Red Dawn and I can still see why so many would have enjoyed it more when it was released in 1984 but I can also see the many negative points.

Starting off with a laughable amount of title cards that get viewers up to speed, Red Dawn quickly gets the action started when a bunch of American schoolkids are alarmed, to say the least, by invading Soviet forces.
They head for the hills, at first just thinking of survival but soon coming up with tactics to use in a concerted effort to fight back.

It's, essentially, a war movie set on American soil with lots of young heartthrobs in the cast. Patrick Swayze is the older, brave member of the group while the likes of C. Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson, Darren Dalton and Brad Savage look up to him. Then there are those old hands I already mentioned in supporting roles, as well as Lane Smith, Ron O'Neal and Frank McRae, though the latter is onscreen for merely a minute or so.

This may not be the finest film from director John Milius but it's worth a watch for a number of reasons. First of all, there's the subject matter. Yes, it's dumb and gung-ho for most of the runtime but there are also a surprising number of dark moments that aren't expected in a film about teen freedom fighters. Secondly, the cast. Of course. Thirdly, this is an early film in the interesting career of Kevin Reynolds. I like Kevin Reynolds (oh yes, I liked Waterworld - a lot) and the movies that he's involved with always tend to have enough sheer entertainment in the mix to keep me happy throughout.

Red Dawn is a film that was, undoubtedly, best viewed in 1984 but you can still watch it now and, after checking that nobody else can see you, allow yourself to pump your fist in the air and shout "Go Wolverines!".


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