Oh Hollywood, you creatively bankrupt haven for the untalented leeches of the entertainment business! What classic film have you recreated now, despite an absolute dearth of modern audiences clamoring for such things? Red Dawn, you say? John Milius’ Red Dawn? The 1984 cult classic that saw Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson and a pre-coked-out-of-his-mind Charlie Sheen fighting off an invading army of Russian soldiers in the woods surrounding a small middle American town? Wow, that’s a pretty bold plan, especially since we’ve been pals with the Russians for nearly two decades.
What’s that? You’ve replaced the Russians with North Korean troops? Well, that might just work, assuming your audience is in no way aware of the very real reasons preventing North Korea from attacking any other country on the planet. Are we building this remake on the idea that American audiences are willing to completely suspend any knowledge of logistics, politics, military protocol and simple physics as long as the supposed teenagers firing automatic weaponry at foreigners are suitably attractive? Oh you are! Well then yes, please proceed.
Conversations with ourselves aside, a new trailer has been released for the upcoming Red Dawn remake. It is currently scheduled to hit theaters on November 21, 2012 and stars Chris Hemsworth, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson and a handful of other attractive young people you’d most likely recognize from any number of teen dramas aired on the WB. That’s perfectly reasonable given that the original Red Dawn featured all the biggest teen stars of 1984, but beyond that very little makes sense about this project. As you’ve likely gathered we understand the fiscal motivation for remaking Red Dawn, but unless screenwriters Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore have written an intensely clever script, there’s not really any logical way to make Red Dawn’s plot work in our modern geopolitical climate.
Alright, let’s assume that North Korea somehow secretly developed a way to transport a sizable invasion force over the vast Pacific Ocean. This is completely unrealistic, but we’re willing to suspend our disbelief for the sake of this argument. So, a fleet of North Korean planes (or boats, or zeppelins or whatever) leaves North Korea en route to a small town somewhere in the interior of the contiguous United States. Assuming that our state of the art radar systems and dozens of military surveillance satellites don’t immediately pick up on this, how much time do you think would pass before people living on the coast started inundating Twitter and Facebook with warnings about the huge cloud of enemy troops attempting to topple our democratic empire? Minutes? Seconds? We just landed an SUV-sized robot on a planet hundreds of millions of miles away, and yet the creators of this remake feel we ought to live in fear at the possibility of an invasion from a country that UN rights organizations consistently claim is unable to feed the majority of its population.
Yes, we notice that the trailer attempts to justify all of this by introducing some kind of magical EMP weapon that wipes out America’s technological infrastructure in one swift blow, but that wouldn’t really have much effect on our ability to wage a conventional war against any prospective invaders. The Marines, for example, still rely heavily on the classic M-16 assault rifle, which would be totally unaffected by a weapon that targets computerized electronics. Even getting beyond that rather crucial point, the number of soldiers America is able to field in any given conflict utterly dwarfs the North Korean military. If you were to pit the two countries’ respective militaries against one another, but armed the US with only rocks and pointy sticks, we’d still have to put money on America simply by virtue of its vast numerical superiority.
This sort of plot worked in the 1980s when the threat of war with the USSR was a very real, terrifying prospect, but that all hinged on our mistaken belief that the Communist war machine was equal to America’s military might. In hindsight we realize that the Russians could never have launched a sneak attack into the heart of America, but since we didn’t know that at the time it seemed like a perfectly justifiable reason for Swayze, Sheen and pals to take to the hills and promote American nationalism by shooting stereotypical Russian troops. In our modern, hyper-connected age though, audiences know way, way too much about the reality of life in North Korea (despite the country’s attempts to remain totally isolated). Unless you’ve been living under an exceedingly well insulated rock for the past 15 years there’s just no way for this movie’s plot to ring realistic.
Then again, it’s only a movie. Cynicism aside, we love explosions as much as the next twentysomething geek culture journalists, so yeah, we’ll probably see this thing. That said, we hope the filmmakers haven’t decided to be too cute with this latest Red Dawn iteration. That “WOLVERINES!” rallying cry just won’t sound right coming from some teen heartthrob who wasn’t even alive in ’84.