Red Dawn paints small town life here with swift, clean strokes. It took only a few minutes for me to feel like I knew these guys and what makes them tick. Their world, basically, is a world of trucks, chicks, strong personal loyalties and vague apprehensions for their future – the kind of world Springsteen has made a career singing about.
Their world is about to change, however, and abruptly. With no warning other than an ominous rumbling noise, and their house shaking, the Eckert boys and their compatriots wake up one morning to see Chinese paratroopers dropping out of the sky in a massive, thunderous air assault. It’s a genuinely frightening, gut-wrenching sight as transport planes disgorge an endless number of Chinese soldiers into the skies above this otherwise quaint town. At one point, an American missile hits one of the planes – and the plane’s fiery wreckage crashes right into one of the houses. Reality is suddenly hitting these teenagers in a big, 9/11-sized way.
This initial Chinese assault plays out almost entirely from the perspective of the teenagers, who are forced to grab anyone they can, hop in trucks, and race like hell out of town into the woods to a family cabin. The Chinese, who are landing vehicles, soldiers and command-and-control units, try to stop the Eckerts and their friends – but the kids successfully slip away.