Red Dawn

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Red Dawn Movie Poster Image
Forgettable remake has lots of explosions, war action.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 26 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages about teamwork, sticking together, kid empowerment, and standing up for what you believe in, as well as promoting self defense and acting by any means necessary to wreak havoc on the enemy. Jed, a Marine, compares the Wolverines to the insurgents in the Middle East who fought against the American army, providing the case for fighting occupying forces. The movie proves that even one flea can drive a dog crazy (i.e. a small rebel group can make a difference in a David-vs-Goliath fight).

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Wolverine clan makes sacrifices in order to try to bring down their enemy. Jed is a natural leader and tries to teach the teens around him what it means to be a soldier. Matt will do anything to save the girl he loves -- but, by doing so, he's responsible for getting a friend killed. The Wolverines all have to overcome their fear of death.


Several characters die (even main ones, as in the original movie). The body count includes people who are shot and others who are killed in explosions and during hand-to-hand combat. A firing squad kills a father and a bunch of people who are considered a threat to the North Korean government. Lots of explosions/crashes -- cars flip, there are lots of flames/fires, and combatants engage in gun battles. But none of it is very bloody (except when a wound is being sewn up). Some jarring camerawork makes the action feel even more frenzied.


A few kisses between teen and twentysomething couples. One couple flirts pretty heavily through most of the movie.


Language includes one "f--k," plus "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "d--k," "prick," "p---y," "damn," "bitch," "goddamn," "oh my God," and insults like "motard," "traitor," and "coward."


Subway has a prominent placement, and cars driven in the movie include Ford, Dodge RAM, Chevy, and GM. Other brands include Rolling Rock beer, Pepsi, and Hammermill paper.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage teens drink on a few occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Red Dawn is a remake of the 1984 teen-soldier drama. As in the original, there are several battle scenes that feature character deaths (mostly from shooting, but also from explosions and hand-to-hand combat). There's a some strong language ("s--t," "ass," "bitch," and one "f--k") and a couple of passionate kisses, but it's really the body count and some iffy racial issues (all of the minority characters die, and the North Korean enemies were originally Chinese) that are most likely to raise eyebrows. But the movie, especially if seen in conjunction with the original, could still provide some good discussion fodder about the historical threat of Communism versus today's more technological threats. And you can expect teens to be interested, thanks to stars Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJay25340 January 23, 2013

Red Dawn

This is a review for the movie Red Dawn. This movie is directed by Dan Bradley, starring Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck. This movie is based on the 1984 movie of... Continue reading
Adult Written byShivom Oza November 27, 2012

Red Dawn (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Low-On-Intellect, Bereft Of Action

Spokane, Washington, wakes up to the horrific sight of North Korean paratroopers dropping from the sky, with the citizens finding themselves prisoners and their... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byNate2247 February 25, 2016

Great action movie for teens.

Right off the bat, I'd like to say that no, this is not a perfect movie. Some characters at lackluster, the plot feels a little cliće, and the premis seems... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 24, 2015

Red Dawn (2012)

Red Dawn (2012) Is a action movie in which North Korea invades America there is one use of strong language ('f**k') and mild bad language however viol... Continue reading

What's the story?

RED DAWN is a remake of the iconic 1984 war drama about a group of high schoolers who band together to fight off a Communist invasion. Unlike the Cold War context of the original, the new version features the North Koreans as the enemy (originally it was the Chinese, but the studio decided to change the invading army's nationality, supposedly for marketing reasons) and Washington State as the setting. Between deployments, Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) is home visiting his younger brother, high-school quarterback Matt (Josh Peck). When the North Koreans invade the morning after the Wolverines' big game, the Eckert brothers escape to their country house with their friends Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and Daryl (Connor Cruise). After assembling a tight crew of other young adults, Jed trains them all in military tactics to subvert the enemy.

Is it any good?

Even Hemsworth's authoritative charm can't save the lackluster material and overly subdued performances (including a truly terrible acting job by Isabel Lucas as Erica). With Hemsworth's and Hutcherson's box-office appeal, there's no doubt audiences of a certain age will want to see them fight as very different young warriors. Unfortunately, this remake, while passable for those solely interested in eye candy holding guns and spouting patriotic cheers, is in every way inferior to the original. Props are in order, however, for Jeffrey Dean Morgan and two other 40-something actors who show up for the final act as the Wolverines' experienced soldier backup.

It's not just nostalgia speaking to prefer the original; some remakes do offer an inventive twist or a realistic modernization (21 Jump Street and Let Me In come to mind). But here the powers that be decided it was OK to digitally alter the invading army's nationality from Chinese to North Korean (so they're saying all East Asians look alike?) and to not-so-subtly kill off every ensemble member of color. It's almost like watching a stereotypical horror movie -- every single black and Hispanic teen meets his or her end, but nearly all the white kids survive. And while original Red Dawn stars Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen had an authentic emotional connection and conversations, the brotherly talks between Hemsworth and Peck here feel forced and forgettable, much like the movie itself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Red Dawn's violence. How does it compare to what you've seen in other action movies? In horror movies? Which has more impact, and why?

  • The movie's antagonists were originally the Chinese, but the studio changed the enemy to the North Koreans. Why do you think the change was made? Do you think the Koreans pose a real threat to America? Does that affect how you experience the movie?

  • For those familiar with the original, how does this iteration compare to the '80s version? Some critics have accused the remake of being racist, both in its depiction of Asians and the way it kills off all the kids of color. What do you think? 

  • Talk about the enduring popularity of remakes. Does this take on Red Dawn seem as relevant as the first film?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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