Remaking right-wing anarchist John Milius’s 1984 survivalist movie about a Soviet invasion of the US was always going to be a tough call. Factor in the meltdown of production company MGM, a three-year delay and changing the enemy from China to North Korea – meaning re-shoots, re-dubbed dialogue and digital changes to flags, uniforms and insignia – and the collateral damage is relatively low. Also, since Chris Hemsworth (‘Thor’) and Josh Hutcherson (‘Hunger Games’) are now better known, these delays may actually benefit the movie.
A bunch of teenage kids, named the Wolverines after the local high school football team, wage guerrilla war against a professional occupying army lead by a tight-lipped villain, Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee). This is still inherently daft, even if the resistance is being lead by an battle-hardened Iraq war veteran (Hemsworth), helped later by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s scene-stealing, ‘un-retired’ marine. Unsurprisingly, the film’s director, ex-stunt co-ordinator Dan Bradley, is more comfortable with the explosive, if often incoherent, action than the quieter dramatic scenes, which feature some laughably gung ho dialogue: ‘Even the tiniest flea,’ declares Hemsworth, ‘can drive a big dog crazy.’