“The Russians need to take us in one piece, and that’s why they’re here.”
When Communists invade America, a group of teenagers in Colorado — led by Jed (Patrick Swayze) and his brother Matt (Charlie Sheen) — defend themselves in the hills, eventually forming a resistance group known as the Wolverines.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cold War
- Harry Dean Stanton Films
- Resistance Fighters
- Small Town America
Response to Peary’s Review:
In his review of this ’80s cult favorite (which he labels “anti-Communist paranoia gone mad”), Peary focuses primarily on the “right-wing politics” of its creator, director/screenwriter John Milius — who, Peary argues, “makes warfare seem fun”, and who seems to envy “the film’s teenagers and underground fighters as they attempt to recapture their homeland.” In truth, if you’re able to ignore the film’s controversial political stance (as well as some of the more glaring plot holes — the scenario is more fantasy than reality), Red Dawn remains a surprisingly enjoyable action flick, one which is guaranteed to appeal to anyone who’s ever dreamed of surviving off the land and/or becoming a guerrilla fighter. The lead actors, as Peary notes, are all “solid action heroes”, and convincingly portray the youthful rebels, though it’s frustrating that we never get to know any of them in great detail (character development is secondary to action here). Indeed, Milius infuses his script with so much fighting that at a certain point “it becomes hard to tell what specifically the insurgents are trying to accomplish during each of their sneak attacks on the invaders” — but action fans surely won’t be disappointed.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by the cast of (mostly) unknown young actors
- The frightening opening “landing” sequence
- A sobering view of what American occupation might look like
- Refreshing humanization of at least one of the invaders
- Beautiful cinematography of deceptively “peaceful” landscapes
Yes, for its status as a cult favorite.