Starring: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Gabriel Byrne, Maria Bello.
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed By: Jean-Francois Richet
Written By: James DeMonaco
Many John Carpenter films seem to be getting the remake treatment now days. Recently we have had the remake of The Thing. A not so great movie that apparently is not a patch on the original (I wouldn't know I haven't seen it). In the last few years we have also had the Halloween remake, which again was not a patch on the original (this one I have seen). The Assault On Precinct 13 remake was released a few years before both of these and by all accounts is yet another John Carpenter remake that has gone horribly wrong (again I have not seen the original of this).
We start the film with a drug addicted Ethan Hawke, motor mouthing his way through a potential drug deal. Expectantly the deal goes awry and we find out that Hawke is in fact a cop undercover. The mission goes horribly wrong and through his call, his two team members are killed. Eight months later and Hawke is having psychological difficulties because of the incident, and finds himself working in a run-down Precinct behind a desk. Hawke is called in to work on New Year's Eve, along with other officers who are unhappy about working this night. Hawke looks at it as an easy shift considering the Precinct is to shut down at midnight and that he is having a meeting with his sexy psychiatrist, Maria Bello.
Elsewhere cop killer Marion Bishop (Fishburne) has been arrested and is being transported out of town, along with some petty criminals, however the snow storm is causing the driver problems, and he is forced to stop at Precinct 13 for the night, much to Hawke's disapproval.
With the prisoners locked up, Hawke gets an unexpected guest; his sexy psychiatrist. She turns up after being stranded in the snow ever since she left him earlier in the day. Something may cheer him up after all. His slight cheer is short lived though, as two men break into the precinct and Hawke and his cops engage in a shoot out, forcing their intruders out. The only explanation they have for this is that it is Bishop's men come to break him out of prison.
Whilst a large team set up outside, Hawke assembles his cops ready to fight back, but when he wrestles with an intruder one on one he finds out the man is a cop. Turns out the people on the outside are corrupt cops bent on killing Bishop so he can't point them out in court. This means everyone inside will have to be killed in order to keep all these cops from going to jail. What plays out is a large force of cops attempting to bust into a tiny precinct protected by a handful of local cops and a handful of prisoners, meaning tension hits high inside the precinct especially between Hawke and Fishburne.
The plot of the film is something we have all seen before. Something that you are willing to watch when you need an easy action flick to keep you occupied. What we have here is a full film of continuous shoot outs, all involving pretty horrible shooters. For starters we have a man hiding behind a bus, shooting in front of him, failing to hit two men who are wide open, but somehow as these two men run from the fire, they manage to shoot behind them and take this man out. From this moment on I was expecting something silly. Next we have Hawke standing with a semi-automatic weapon, five men lined up in front of him and he misses them all. Some cop he is. There are also sniper's who line up shots, only to miss them when they pull the trigger. These guys are supposed to be cops and they can't hit a target. As you can see the shoot outs become a little silly, and they are the only thing that keeps this film entertaining.
Ethan Hawke played his role very well in the film. The opening scene alone was strong and I only wish the film remained like that. Fishburne was delivering his lines in a sleazy way which was very off putting. Ever since his role as Morpheus in The Matrix I've found it very hard to believe him as anyone else. Gabriel Byrne has very little to do and is just a very generic, one-dimensional action flick character.
The sense I got from the film was that it wanted to be Die Hard. From the snowy exterior, to the Christmassy soundtrack all I kept thinking was Die Hard. I was just waiting for John McClane to make a dirty vested cameo. The film is very average but watchable for an action junkie.
I think I need to sit down and watch all of John Carpenter's work as by the sounds of it not one of the remakes is anywhere near as good as the originals. All I have heard is excellent things about Carpenter films and perhaps I should take people's word for it. By all accounts the original of Assault On Precinct 13 is far better and I recommend that you only watch this version if you can't get your hands on that.
2.5 / 5
Next film to review: BLADE RUNNER