When John Milius' "Red Dawn" was released in 1984, it played upon topical fears of an imminent Soviet invasion on American soil. Although it was likely not to occur, the threat was real and the premise of the film relatively plausible—if embellished a little for audiences. In 2012 (or 2009, when this remake was filmed before studio MGM went bankrupt, leaving several of its projects in limbo), the new "Red Dawn" plays like a post-9/11 action-fantasy with a "what-if?" scenario that, it's safe to say, no one would wish to come true. A seasoned second-unit director promoted to the top of the ranks, Dan Bradley (2011's "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol") does a competent job of adhering to the spirit of the original while taking things in enough of a new direction that it doesn't feel like a tired rehash. The same goes for screenwriters Carl Ellsworth (2009's "Last House on the Left") and Jeremy Passmore, who sprinkle clever odes to the predecessor throughout. In a sign of the times, the PG-13 "Red Dawn" of today is violent, but not nearly as edgy as the PG-13 "Red Dawn" of the mid-'80s, decreasing the body count of the central cast while simultaneously leading toward a more open-ended, up-in-the-air conclusion, lest there be the possibility for money to be made on a sequel.
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