Plot: As a history teacher discusses the war tactics of the past, a group of mysterious figures glide via parachutes to the ground outside. As students flock to the windows, the men open fire and leave countless people dead. But some manage to escape, thanks to in large part to Jed (Patrick Swayze), who transported several survivors in his truck. Jed and a small band of students reach a general store, stock up on supplies, then head into the woods to try to survive the invasion. They notice tanks, helicopters, and numerous foot patrols, as this force has taken over the town. After a while things seem to be a little more normal, but the teens learn that they’re wanted men and are risking capture. In their short return visit, they are joined by two teen girls who need to hide out as well and learn the invaders are Russian and Cuban. A run in with some invading scouts forces the teens to fight back, killing the Russians squad. Now faced with ever increasing danger of being discovered, can this small band of teen fighters hold the line or will the superior odds prove to be too much?
Entertainment Value: An epic of 80s culture, Red Dawn is a testosterone laced, flag waving spectacle of action cinema. The cast alone is beyond impressive, with 80s stars Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, and Lea Thompson, plus talent like Harry Dean Stanton, Ben Johnson, Powers Boothe, and more. The performances are solid across the board and the story is able to build more emotion than you’d think, given that this is action movie about teen guerrillas. The evolution of the teens from students to survivors to full on Wolverines is handled well, with a darker tone than some might expect. As an 80s action movie, Red Dawn hits all the right notes. The action is plentiful and paced just right, giving the story and character development room to breathe. Solid story, great cast, and some fantastic action set pieces with remarkable effects work. You have to suspend your disbelief often, but that’s part of the deal with movies of this kind. I know Red Dawn has come under fire from revisionist critics, but to me, it is a product of its era and does what it was intended to do, entertain the audience.
No nakedness. There is some blood, but its minimal. Even in the wild shoot outs and explosive action scenes, the violence is mostly bloodless. You see some red stains of course, plus a Russian is shot with an arrow, which is fun. The action is awesome in this one though, with great set pieces and impressive practical effects. There’s just something about knowing an explosion is a real explosion that makes action scenes that much cooler, at least in my mind that’s true. You’ll see the Wolverines uncork all manner of firearms, from shotguns to pistols to bows to mounted machine guns to rocket launchers and beyond. Lots of bullets and lots of explosions here. The film’s serious tone provides a lot of tough guy talk and nihilist views, so some really good dialogue here. A Russian/Cuban invasion of America is pretty wild, as is a group of teens holding their own, but Red Dawn remains within normal 80s action movie parameters. The action makes sense within the story, so the movie doesn’t just go apeshit and ramp off into chaos.
Overall Insanity: 2/10