YMMV / Red Dawn (1984)

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: This Cracked article, which makes the movie a largely anti-war film (and points out the Idiot Plot of the film too).
  • Anvilicious: Communism is bad. Gun control is bad. America is good. Survivalism is good. Any questions?
  • Applicability:
    • This film could also be seen as an anti-war movie; it shows the painful effects that war has on innocent civilians, how it makes killers out of children, and it actually does an excellent job of humanizing the regular Joe Soviet soldiers, even in light of some of the things some of them do. On the other hand, while the movie makes it clear that war is Dirty Business, it still depicts it as necessary to fight back.
    • Even John Milius himself has pointed this out. He once said of Red Dawn "I think it shows the utter futility, a desperate futility, of war. In the end of the movie, in spite of all that heroism and valor, the reasons and revenges on both sides, and everything else, all thatís left is a plaque, a lonely plaque, on some desolate battlefield that no one ever goes to."
  • Critic-Proof: Red Dawn was hated by a lot of critics, but that didn't stop it from becoming a box office success.
  • Discredited Meme: If you grew up after the Cold War, the entire premise seems a bit silly. If you grew up during the Cuban missile crisis, it seems horrifically implausible that anyone would have survived the nuking long enough for the premise to happen. Lastly, any detailed knowledge of the sheer logistics involved in an invasion of territory as big as the United States may very likely break one's Suspension of Disbelief note 
    • Then again, it was the Cold War, and neither side was likely to admit that they couldn't inflict a nightmare scenario on the other. What seems implausible in hindsight was downright scary in the context of what was known at the time.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The way the film treats war. On the one hand, the combat scenes are absolute, Grade-A 80s action cheese, sharp as cheddar, and feature lots of slam-bang hoo-rah kabooms to get the audience worked up. Later on especially, though, it does move to a more practical War Is Hell footing, as the psychology of constant guerrilla warfare catches up with the Wolverines, they suffer their first casualties, including the Colonel, and particularly once Darrel betrays the group, there's no glory at all, only pain.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the RiffTrax for the original Red Dawn, the characters survey their wrecked town while the commentators say "They replaced our town with Detroit!" Guess where the 2012 remake was filmed?
  • Memetic Mutation: WOLVERINES!
  • Nightmare Fuel: The entire premise. Even more so when you consider this came out in the early 1980s, when fear of a war between the two superpowers soared to an all-time high; the fear projected through this story is very real.
  • Reality Subtext: Red Dawn was made during a time when the Soviet Union was on the defensive across the globe, paranoid and left reeling from the effects of a more interventionist US foreign policy. The Soviet Union intervention in Afghanistan was part of this, and in a sense the film is a proxy for that conflict. For all that the Soviets still seemed to be holding up pretty well and nobody thought it'd be gone in just seven years. .
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Several moments, especially when a Wolverine (or other major character) gets killed (and subsequently buried)
    • Col. Bella's letters to his wife definitely count. They provide some of the films more poignant scenes, and serve to establish that the rank-and-file of the Russians are generally Not So Different from The Wolverines
  • Values Dissonance: The whole premise. One could argue that the film is something of a deconstruction of this trope, with several instances of Gray and Gray Morality as the harshness of war catches up with The Wolverines.