Rating: The Good – 66.8 Genre: Action Duration: 114 mins Director: John Milius Stars: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson
John Milius’ uneven film has been criticised for being jingoistic and yes, there are some grounds for such criticism. There are also some spectaular leaps of logic and Harry Dean Stanton screams “Avenge me boys” without even a hint of humour. However, for the most part Red Dawn is actually a well orchestrated and even epic depiction of a fictitious invasion of the 1980’s United States by communist forces. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen play two brothers who take to the mountains and form a rag-tag resistance behind enemy lines. It shouldn’t work but somehow this becomes an entertaining and sometimes touching examination of how life could’ve changed in such circumstances. Swayze and Sheen are charismatic in the lead roles and are supported by a number of young and, at the time, promising actors one of whom being Swayze’s future Dirty Dancing co-star Jennifer Grey. Milius’ and Kevin Reynolds’ screenplay can get clunky in parts but holds up for the majority of the film and there are some decent action scenes throughout.
Rating: The Good – 74.4 Genre: Drama Duration: 120 mins Director: John Milius Stars: Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, Gary Busey
One of the better coming of age dramas that follows a group of three men through the defining years of their young lives. Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, and Gary Busey are equally excellent (Vincent and Katt were accomplished surfers in real life – and it shows) as the friends who were bound by their love of surfing in their teenage years but who grew apart as those years passed. It’s a touching tale in many ways as personality, ambition, and era defining events such as the Vietnam War intersect to shift the dynamics and relationships. There’s a playfulness to the earlier scenes that echos that of American Graffiti but there’s also a somberness to the film centering on the notion of of times past and expressed poetically and quite beautifully in the interludes as the film jumps forward to another period in the mens’ lives. Bruce Surtees’ (son of the great Robert) beautifully captures the sea and surfing in a number of memorable sequences but John Milius is clever enough not to allow the film to be dominated by the action and instead he uses it as an emotional backdrop to the drama. This gives Big Wednesday a real sense of authenticity even in the more schmaltzy moments which serves to heighten the level of nostalgia that this film operates so successfully on.