Assault on Precinct 13

Assault on Precinct 13 is a remake of John Carpenter's 1976 film of the same name, which itself was a remake of the 1959 film Rio Bravo. Why so many remakes? The plot of Assault is good old-fashioned moviemaking fun. Take a bunch of conflicting personalities and throw them into an impossible situation where they all need to work together to survive. It's nothing deep, but it is a lot of fun to watch. And director Jean-Francois Richet (All About Love) keeps things 'fun' by moving things quickly and keeping things tense. Since teenagers are the most common viewers of films, they will most likely not have seen either predecessor. It's easy enough to predict who will survive, but it's still fun watching how everything unfolds.

It's New Year's Eve in Detroit, and Sgt. Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke, Taking Lives, Before Sunset) is getting ready to close down his station. On duty with him are veteran cop Jasper O'Shea (Brian Dennehy, She Hate Me, Stolen Summer) and secretary Iris Ferry (Drea de Matteo, Prey for Rock & Roll, Deuce's Wild). There's a violent snowstorm outside, and forcing a bus full of convicts to spend the night at Roenick's precinct. This annoys Roenick to no end, as he was expecting quiet night. Things get worse when masked men surround the precinct and begin a siege.

One of the convicts is Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix Revolutions, Mystic River), a big time gangster. The masked men outside belong to Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne, P.S., Vanity Fair), a high-ranking police officer. Duvall is crooked, and if Bishop lives, he will implicate Duvall and his entire team in court, ruining their careers. Duvall wants to make sure that everybody in Precinct 13 is dead so that no proof exists. Roenick makes the fateful decision to free and arm the prisoners so that they can make a last ditch effort to fight off a highly trained and highly armed police force. Worse, Roenick is hooked on drugs and still dealing with a sting gone bad where he lost his team. He feels responsible for their deaths, and deals with this by sitting behind a desk where his responsibilities are minimal. With the Duvall situation at the forefront, he must deal with making life or death decisions again.

James Demonaco's (The Negotiator, Jack) screenplay throws together a whole bunch of disparate personalities and a healthy sense of distrust between the crooks and the cops. It starts a bit slowly, but then manages to build a decent amount of tension and hold it for the duration of the film. Richet assembles an impressive cast (including John Leguizamo, Ice Age, Spun) but their talent is wasted on what is essentially a popcorn movie. This isn't a film one goes to to watch dramatic performances. Byrne, Hawke, and Fishburne do decent jobs with a by-the-numbers script.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, and for some drug content.

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