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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

RED DAWN (1984)

As a movie idea, it’s irresistible: a shock-and-awe style invasion of small-town America by Cuba & the Russkies back in the Cold War days. But scripter/megger John Milius largely ignores the aspects of life under occupation to concentrate on a small batch of youthful insurgents who go thru various Iron Man initiation rites as they play out a fantasy-camp version of WWIII guerrilla warfare. Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen & other teen-dreamy types all manage to keep from breaking up during the emotional bits and there’s a heaven-sent (literally) guest appearance from Powers Boothe, who’s so darn good he takes a bit of the pressure off. The ridiculous thing should be a lot more fun than it is, but Milius barely provides two memorable images over the course of the film (the opening parachute invasion & those cool attack helicopters toward the end), consistently dropping the ball with OTT action scenes he can’t be bothered to properly set up.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For a comic Russian invasion try THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!/’66 which holds up surprisingly well and truly captured its moment. Plus, Alan Arkin & Brian Keith are just about perfect.

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