A strange offspring of the merging of two '80s trends (the resurgence of anti-communism via Ronald Reagan, and the popularity of the teenage genre), John Milius' fantasy of juvenile jingoism remains an amusing artifact of that time. The story begins with the invasion of a small town somewhere in the Northwest by Soviet and Cuban paratroopers. In response, a group of teenagers grab weapons and provisions before heading off into the mountains to act as a small guerilla force. Milius, one of the few dyed-in-the-wool right-wingers in Hollywood, has worked on some fine scripts in his career, including Jeremiah Johnson and Apocalypse Now, and he's also been responsible for some truly loopy projects, like Farewell to the King (1989), and this one. There's not much to be salvaged here, from the ridiculously implausible premise to the comic-book dialogue to the non-acting by Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, and others at an early stage in their careers. At one point, Milius has the Soviets forcing their adult prisoners to watch Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky as a form of indoctrination. He might have benefited from a viewing of the famed "Battle on the Ice" himself, given the inept staging of Red Dawn's action scenes.
by Michael Costello review