"Red Dawn," the remake of the 1984 film about a group of teens who band together to fight an invading army, features the same patriotic bravado and coming-of-age emotions that made the original so popular. It's like waving the American flag each time this rag-tag team of teens show maturity beyond their years to make life miserable for the North Korean Army that's taken over Spokane, Wash.
Jed (Chris Hemsworth) is the natural leader for the group (who use the same battle cry of "Wolverines!") because he's the only one with military training. The rest of the unlikely heroes -- Matt (Josh Peck), Robert (Josh Hutcherson), Toni (Adrianne Palicki) -- have only hundreds of hours of playing combat video games and a few hunting trips as their training.
Despite their lack of experience, the young rebels become an annoyance for the invading army and a symbol for those fighting back.
The movie has received some criticism for suggesting that North Korea could amass an army big enough to invade the United States. But in the land of cinema, anything can happen. It wasn't that long ago that an alien army showed up in Southern California in "Battle: Los Angeles" and it wasn't considered farfetched.
This isn't a movie about who has the biggest army, but the tale of a band of brothers (and sisters) who rise to the occasion when pushed to an extreme. Director Dan Bradley gives them a high-powered backdrop, kicking off the film with an action bang. He only occasionally lets up to show the humanity of the characters.
Hemsworth may not be swinging Thor's big hammer, but he brings just as much command to the screen. He's one of the most charismatic action heroes working in films these days.
As a plus, Hemsworth's surrounded by a strong supporting cast -- especially Palicki as his battle buddy and love interest.
Bradley has successfully taken the heart of the original "Red Dawn" and pumped enough new life into the story to make it a nostalgic moment for those who loved the original and an action thrill ride for those too young to remember it.
The action heavy "Red Dawn" should have been a summer release but there's nothing wrong with a little chaos and mayhem for the holidays. It's an explosive enough nod to make this band of Wolverines real winners.
"Red Dawn," rated PG-13 for violence, language. Stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Directed by Dan Bradley. Running time: 114 minutes. Grade: B Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.