Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
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Review Date: January 24, 2005
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Writer: James DeMonaco
Producers: Pascal Caucheteux, Jeffrey Silver, Stephan Sperry
Ethan Hawke as Jake
Laurence Fishburne as Bishop
Drea de Matteo as Iris
A burnt-out cop is closing up shop at a precinct on New Year’s Eve, when a really bad guy is transferred into his minimally fortified and resourced facility. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, a bunch of guys wearing ski masks and machine guns show up a few hours later and attempt to break into the precinct in order to seemingly either kill or rescue the baddie. It’s gonna be a long night…
A fun little action movie. I don’t think anyone believes that they were re-inventing the wheel with this film (it is, in fact, yet another remake), but if you’re going to create a genre flick, do it right, keep the audience interested, slap some diverse characters in there, a little tension, some action, some chicks, gore…and you’ll pass the test. This film integrated all of those elements, along with a decent lead character, played by Ethan Hawke, struggling with his own shit, to give it all that little extra “oomph”. I have to admit that I’ve always been a sucker for “snow movies” as well, and this film takes the cake in that category with almost every single frame of the dark Detroit night jam-packed with snowflakes the size of my big ass (this is even more effective when you’re actually walking into the theater from a snowstorm yourself). The film sets itself up nicely with an invigorating opening sequence, a few Christmas tunes here and there, introductions to all of the goodies and the baddies (and there are a hell of a lot of ‘em, let me tell you), so that once the actual “assault” gets going, you got a little invested in these folks, and you could give half a shit about some of the gunplay going down. And speaking of gunplay, this film reminded me of how long it’d actually been that I’d seen a straightforward, no-holds barred action movie in theaters. It seems like forever! Now even though things started a little slow on that front (I didn’t think enough people were getting skeezed), I was more than happy to see bodies dropping like sacks of bricks soon thereafter, with the filmmakers not afraid to kill of a number of characters you might not expect to get whacked.

All that said, let’s not forget that this film is a B-movie at its core, so many of the situations do get a little far-fetched with an ultra-expert team of top-notch folks on the outside, having a ton of trouble getting into a building that’s not necessarily guarded all that well. The film’s editing is also a little overdone, with some of the action stuff going by too fast (it seems like I’m repeating myself about this point in most action movies nowadays), some of the characters are wasted (the great Gabriel Byrne gets to stand around and say “Wow, they’re really smart!” a few times and execute someone in a really cool way, while Ja Rule gets to be even more annoying than usual by constantly referring to himself in the third person…bugh) and I can’t help but think ‘Morpheus’ whenever Laurence Fishburne opens his mouth and says anything, but these weren’t major problems. The film also tacks on a couple of twists, a few moments of tension, some nice interplay between Hawke and Morpheus with moral dilemmas abounding, as well as some touches about honor and loyalty, to keep even those looking for a little extra, at bay. On the whole, if you’re looking for a decent way to entertain yourself for a little over an hour and a half, check out the slutty-looking Drea de Matteo dressed in one of the shortest skirts of all-time, Maria Bello as the hottest shrink this side of my own, Brian Dennehy acting Irish in a thick moustache and his loud voice, and Hawke coming through as the wimpier version of his character from TRAINING DAY, and don’t try to think too much about all of the fun happening on-screen. Just enjoy it and move on.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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