The classic and enduring 1984 action flick Red Dawn was remade in 2012, with updated special effects and a new storyline. Both films pack a patriotic punch and will appeal to Second Amendment fans.
Review of Red Dawn (2012)
Teenage heroes save their hometown from North Korean invasion, helping to turn the tide in WWIII. [Dir: Paul Feine/ Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, Josh Hutcherson/ 93min/ Action-Adventure/ Second Amendment, Anti-Socialism]
I generally dread remakes, but for me this update of the 1984 Red Dawn classic is just as good as the original, only different. Though the original had a subtler dramatic touch, this is a much more effective action film thanks largely to the formidable Chris Hemsworth (Thor) in the leading role. He is far more credible as a military commander; and that credibility is further aided by a new back-story, that he just recently returned from a stint in Iraq.
In this telling, Europe is in economic collapse, thereby weakening NATO, and the U.S. military is over-stretched with large deployments overseas. In short, the homeland is vulnerable. Meanwhile, an ultranationalist Russia is building up the North Korean military machine. These plot storm clouds finally break with a sudden invasion of the north-western U.S. by North Korean forces and Russian advisers. A key to success of the invasion is the use of a secret electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon that disables the U.S. electrical grid and military communications; the only hope for repelling the invaders lies in capturing that weapon. It comes down to this military veteran and a ragtag group of heroic young people to get the job done.
In the initial filming the invaders were Chinese, but at the last minute financially-beseiged MGM switched to North Koreans for fear of losing sales in the Chinese market. Some reviewers have subsequently panned the film, arguing that tiny North Korea could never touch the U.S., but in the context of the plot, that is just breathtaking ignorance. North Korea currently has over nine million active, reserve and paramilitary troops, making it in numbers at least the largest military institution in the world. Aided with Russian forces and an EMP weapon (something it just so happens North Korea has been working on), and in the not at all unlikely scenario of an over-stretched U.S. military sent to fight battles in faraway places, carving off a small portion of the north-western U.S. might not be all that problematic.
What makes this film of likely interest to libertarians (and what made it objectionable to some reviewers) is its Second Amendment angle. It’s not mentioned specifically, but it’s only because ordinary people have weapons that they can fight back. Also in the plus column, some of the remaining socialist paradises are demonstrated to be what they actually are–predatory countries run by dictators. If you’re in the mood for a patriotic action film, this is a satisfying watch.
“It’s a remake of the cult favorite 1984 Cold War-era action flick Red Dawn, which featured Patrick Swayze as a Colorado kid who rallies a youthful militia after the red menace of the Soviet Union invades America. Both movies play like hokey advertisements for the National Rifle Association…”
“…a Tea Party wet dream that offers a scathing (if completely illogical) indictment of the federal government.”
How to See It
Review of Red Dawn (1984)
A few teenagers who escape an initial Soviet-led assault on their small town wage a guerilla war against the enemy. [Dir: John Milius/ Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell/ 114 min/ Action-Adventure/ Second Amendment, Anti-Socialism]
The place is the American Midwest. The year is 1984. Thousands of Soviet troops and their allies begin landing in a full-scale invasion of the U.S. In the initial confusion, a group of high-school students manage to escape into the hills with food and guns. After hiding out for awhile, they sneak back only to find their town fully Soviet-ized: it now has political prisoners, wholesale executions, reeducation camps, etc. Their parents have been taken away or killed. Hardened by the loss of all that is dear to them, they return to the hills, regroup, and become guerilla fighters, attacking the invaders wherever possible.
This red-blooded, patriotic movie has a couple of things going for it from a libertarian perspective. First, it portrays in a very simplified manner some of the atrocities commonly associated with socialism. Second, it has an underlying Second Amendment theme. In particular, why are these high-school kids able to fight the invading troops? Because they are familiar with guns and because private guns are readily available. Additionally, what gun control is in effect is counterproductive in this situation. As gun advocates have predicted, when the invading troops arrive, they use City Hall’s list of registered gun owners to identify and disarm them.
Yes, this film has all that going for it, but it’s clearly aimed at the teenage market and requires a great deal of suspended judgment. It’s essentially a high-school fantasy. There’s also something amateurish about it at times (would people really stop to play football in the middle of a guerilla war?). Even so, despite its defects, it has a significant and sustained popular following. This would be a good Fourth of July film pick for teens.