One of the many casualties of MGM's bankruptcy, Dan Bradley's remake of the Cold War cult-classic Red Dawn has actually been finished for the better part of two years. Set adrift in the tempest of MGM legal and financial troubles, this new saga of Communist invasion has languished as an unknown quantity until recently.
With a release date finally in sight, new distributor Sony Pictures has begun a steady series of trailers, promotions, and previews to (re)build hype for Red Dawn 2012. In that vein, a short clip of the film's dizzying first invasion scene has been released.
Much like the 1984 original, Red Dawn follows a group of teenagers as they struggle through an invasion of the heartland of the United States. Whereas the first Red Dawn filled the skies with Soviet warplanes, its successor depicts a devastating sneak attack by North Korea. With the American armed forces in shambles and the government paralyzed by panic, it's up to the normal citizens such as Jed Eckert (a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth), his brother Matt (Josh Peck), and their classmates to strike back.
While the new clip doesn't show us anything particularly distinct from what we've already seen in trailers, it does give a good idea of the pacing and visual feel of the movie. From a bravura first image of shockwave via snow globe, the scene proceeds at an absolutely breakneck pace. Modern film flourishes abound – quick edits, shaky handheld camerawork, computer-generated carnage. There's even a Michael Bay-style trace-the-path-of-the-explosion as a flaming airplane propeller arcs straight into the house next door. If anything, this clip shows us that the new Red Dawn will display a far more contemporary action vibe than its predecessor.
The original Red Dawn was far from a somber account of modern war. Viewed through the 20/20 lens of subsequent history, it verged on the hysterical. Yet, for all its paranoid jingoism, Red Dawn captured a very real moment of fear and unease in the American consciousness. Though bombastic, the tale of Soviet invasion reflected what the American people saw in their nightmares.
Considering this, it's rather odd that the marauding forces of the new Red Dawn are from North Korea. While North Korea certainly reflects the worst of Stalinist excess, one cannot possibly posit it as the primary monster of the American subconscious. This was something of a pragmatic move – according to production reports, the North Korean villains of Red Dawn were originally going to be (somewhat more believably) Chinese. However, the Chinese soldiers and their People's Liberation Army iconography were changed to North Korean during post-production in an effort keep the lucrative returns of the Chinese box office.
This illustrates the primary hurdle for the upcoming Red Dawn: Outside the cultural context of the original, there is a chance that it will come off looking silly rather than exciting, and insipid rather than scary. It all comes down to whether Dan Bradley – a first-time director who has worked as stunt coordinator on films such as the Bourne series, Crank, and Spider-Man 2 – can deliver action slick enough to make the audience forget the silly premise. Though this clip doesn't bring us any closer to knowing whether this will be pulled off, it certainly gives us an idea of the tricks of the trade that will be used to accomplish it.
Red Dawn parachutes into theaters on November 21, 2012.
Source: Sony Pictures