Picks and Pans Review: Red Dawn

updated 08/27/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/27/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A bunch of high school students in Colorado are sitting in history class when some Russian and Cuban paratroopers land outside their window as part of a nationwide invasion by Soviet-bloc forces. When their teacher walks out to investigate, he's shot. Wham! What a beginning to this movie by John Milius, director of the first Conan. That's about all there is to the movie, though: one orphaned idea. Some of the boys flee to the hills to form a guerrilla resistance group. But they do nothing other than run an occasional raid on an enemy tank or troop column. Their female companions—Lea (Jaws 3-D) Thompson and Jennifer (Reckless) Gray—are superfluous. Their only function is to cry, an act denied to the boys. Patrick (Grand-view U.S.A.) Swayze as the boys' leader and newcomer Charlie Sheen as his younger brother share one astonishing scene in which one of their group is executed for being a spy. But veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton is wasted as the brothers' father; so is Ben Johnson as a kindly townsman. Only Ron (Super Fly) O'Neal, as a Cuban colonel whose conscience gradually brings him over to the kids' side, is able to arouse much interest. (PG-13)

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