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Why Chris Hemsworth's Lowest Rated Rotten Tomatoes Movie Is Worth Watching

Most actors with more than a handful of films under their belt have that one movie in their back catalog: the film with embarrassingly bad reviews that generally ends up buried under their more beloved and critically lauded fare. For Chris Hemsworth, that critical low point is 2012's "Red Dawn," the little-known remake of the dark 1984 action movie about the Soviet Union invading the U.S. after global tensions reach breaking point.

Hemsworth's job here isn't exactly easy, mind you. The original "Red Dawn" is obviously classic enough to warrant a remake, and he takes over the role of protagonist Jed Eckert from the inimitable Patrick Swayze. It doesn't exactly help that the remake's attackers are largely from North Korea, the secluded hermit country that's extremely adept at making threats to the U.S., but doesn't make for a particularly believable invading force.

"Red Dawn" came out the same year as "The Avengers," "The Cabin in the Woods," and "Snow White and the Huntsman," and just one year after Hemsworth rose to global prominence with "Thor." However, while he'd already flashed his charisma and talent for comedy, he was still a few years away from showing the world just how funny and captivating he could be, which adds a whole extra element into his on-screen presence in movies like 2016's "Ghostbusters," "Thor: Ragnarok," and "Bad Times at the El Royale." 

As such, "Red Dawn" is a perfect movie for witnessing what the actor could do in a conventional, non-superhero or fantasy hero role back when he was just beginning his career as an international superstar — and despite its lowly 15 percent Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie's well worth watching for any Hemsworth fan. 

Red Dawn is a great companion piece to later Hemsworth action movies

Chris Hemsworth's version of Jed Eckert is a U.S. Marine who served in the Iraq War, and he's far and away the most capable guy to deal with the enemy threat — especially since the rest of the Wolverines, like his brother Matt (Josh Peck), are high school kids. Jed is a fairly traditional gun-toting action hero type who's capable on the field, and supportive in a tough love kind of way. This may seem like a bit of a cookie cutter role, but despite his classically heroic appearance, Hemsworth hasn't actually played all that many characters like this in his career. As such, this comparatively early role acts as a perfect companion piece to his later military hero roles in 2018's "12 Strong" and 2020's "Extraction." 

"Extraction," in particular, is a great match with "Red Dawn," since Hemsworth's character in that movie is the deadly, yet tormented black ops warrior Tyler Rake. There are enough similarities between him and Jed Eckert that if you'd place Jed in a Petri dish, it's easy to imagine that he'd eventually develop into Tyler. Because of this, the evolution of Hemsworth as a performer is on full display between these movies. While he certainly does the best he can with what he's given in "Red Dawn," his portrayal of the weary, grizzled Tyler is on a wholly other level, and he brings plenty of nuance to the character with small expressions and gestures. As such, watching the movies back to back is a great way to witness his progression as a performer. To be fair, this would probably also be possible by watching the first three "Thor" movies, but this way you won't have to suffer through "Thor: The Dark World."

The film makes a surprisingly deep allusion to the Iraq War

"Red Dawn" isn't a completely hopeless film. Though its Tomatometer rating is what it is, the movie's 51 percent Rotten Tomatoes audience rating means that it's a perfectly decent popcorn action movie. However, if you absolutely, positively can't consume your cinema without a side order of deep thoughts and clever allusions, the movie — perhaps surprisingly — delivers on this front, as well. 

As noted, Chris Hemsworth's Jed Eckert is a veteran of the Iraq War, which means that he served in a large foreign force that had to fight smaller teams of locals. He can't help but notice that the circumstances have been reversed when the Wolverines start their fight against the North Koreans. "Over there, we were the good guys," he summarizes his take on the situation. "We enforced order. Over here, we're the bad guys. We cause chaos."

Sure, It doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to notice the irony of an Iraq War vet like Jed becoming a guerrilla freedom fighter. Still, the fact that Jed realizes and lampshades this himself brings a welcome element of introspection in what's otherwise a fairly goofy and action-oriented movie.

A rare ending for Hemsworth fans

Fair spoiler warning: If you haven't seen the original "Red Dawn," the movie has a pretty major twist in store near the end. We're going to discuss the remake's version of said twist in a moment, so if you're planning to watch the movie and are unfamiliar with the original, you should probably pause reading and come back after you've finished the film. 

As the Wolverines' threat level and reputation grows, the invaders send in reinforcements — namely, a group of Russian Spetsnaz forces. This seems to be the cue for a big end boss confrontation, and it's even preceded by a nice heart-to-heart between the Eckert brothers. Surely, they're able to vanquish the enemy and live to fight another day?

Not so, at least in Jed's case. In what might just be one of the most surprising and unceremonious death scenes out there, Hemsworth's heroic character finishes talking with Matt, and casually walks down the hallway ... only to be suddenly shot in the head as the Spetsnaz troops begin their attack. The other Wolverines are ultimately able to hold their own, but Jed is easily the most shocking of the movie's many, many casualties. 

This isn't the only time a Chris Hemsworth character dies in a movie. However, given his A-lister status, seeing his character meet his end so suddenly and casually is a truly strange moment that the viewer will likely remember for quite a while.