"We are on
New Years Eve and Detroit Police station, Precinct 13 is about
to close as snowstorms envelop the city. Sergeant Jake Roenick (Hawke),
retiring officer Jasper O'Shea (Dennehy) and secretary Iris Ferry (de Matteo)
are the only people on duty when despatch informs them that a prison transport
has been routed to the precinct because the roads are becoming more treacherous
as the storm takes a firmer grip. On that transport happens to be Detroit's
most notorious criminal Marion Bishop (Fishburne) and as he is placed in
the cells of Precinct 13, assault teams surround the station determined
to get inside but are they here to rescue Bishop or take him out.
As Hollywood struggles for ideas, the remake bandwagon continues
with a new version of John Carpenter's low budget cult classic but can this
actually improve on the 1976 original?
While it might not be as gritty or gruesome as the original,
this is a remake that is still a good movie in its own right. This is all
due to old school, realistic violence of the film. With no slow motion,
fancy camera tricks, wire fighting or computer graphics, this feels like
an old-fashioned action flick that would have gone down well in the 70s
and early 80s. The action is bloody, with stabbings, bullets to the head
and executions and while they might not be a gratuitous as they might have
been in the 70s and 80s, this is still a lot more gory than the current
batch new millennium action movies.
The story is basic but it is the characters that draw you
in. The coming together of criminals and police officers to fight for their
lives is a great premise and a boiling pot for friction and mistrust. They
have to trust each other to stay alive but there is always the feeling that
when the opportunity arises, the criminals will stab their captors in the
back and this adds to the tension. The performances from an excellent ensemble
cast only increase the tension and realism of the piece. Ethan Hawke doesn't
really make bad movies and his performance as guilt ridden Sergeant Jake
Roenick is another fine one by the accomplished actor. This part could have
been so easily over the top in the hands of a lesser actor but Hawke makes
the character believeable and easy to connect with. Laurence Fishburne is
another great actor who brings a real menace to Marion Bishop. This is a
character that is both intriguing and deadly, a clever, calculated psychopath
who you would be a fool to trust. Fishburne excels in roles like this and
this character is no different. Gabriel Byrne is just as sinister as Marcus
Duvall, the man who wants to get inside Precinct 13. This is a role that
Byrne can play in his sleep but he still makes him memorable.
The supporting cast is also good. Maria Bello plays therapist
Alex Sabian who becomes panic stricken as the mayhem breaks out. Drea de
Matteo is her usual sassy self with another memorable role. John Leguizamo
is suitable creepy as drug addict Beck and it is good to see Brian Dennehy
return to mainstream cinema.
The remake of 'Assault on Precinct 13' might not have the
same impact as the original but this is still an entertaining action flick.
With good characters backed up by excellent performances, this is an old
school action movie that will grip you from the start and not let go until
the explosive finale.
Armed and Dangerous (4.52 mins)
'Assault on Precinct 13' weapons specialist Charles Taylor takes you into
his 'gun truck' to show you some of the guns used on the movie. We see
the guns that the different members of the cast received and the tactical
machine guns used by the commando making the assault.
Behind the Precinct Walls (7.26 mins)
Production designer Paul Austerberry takes you behind the scenes of the
precinct, sewer tunnel, prison cell and evidence room sets designed for
'Assault on Precinct 13'. He talks about the design process for sets showcasing
development and the 3D computer models used to map the scenes out.
Plan of Attack (4.24 mins)
Stunt Coordinator Steve Lucescu talks about making the action sequences
in 'Assault on Precinct 13' as realistic as possible. Showing you the
gun fights, car crashes and fire burns, the featurette takes you behind
the scenes of the actor's training and how they participated in many of
The Assault Team (5.14 mins)
Director Jean-Francois Richet, producer Jeffrey Silver and screenwriter
James Demonaco talk about remaking the John Carpenter classic. They discuss
bringing realism to the film and not filling it with over the top 'Hollywood'
action that has plagued many an action film in the past.
Deleted Scenes (6.08 mins)
These five deleted scenes show more of the prisoners in their cells, more
character interaction, the group trying to contain the situation and more
of Marcus Duvall and his commando team. Some of these scenes are very
good but without an introduction or commentary track, we don't know why
they were removed.
Caught in the Crosshairs: Behind the Scenes of Precinct 13 (12.32
Director Jean-Francois Richet, producer Jeffrey Silver, screenwriter James
Demonaco and stars Ethan Hawk, Lawrence Fishburn, Maria Bello, Drea de
Matteo, Ja Rule, John Leguizamo, Aisha Hinds and Brian Dennehy take you
behind the scenes of the remake of 'Assault on Precinct 13'. The filmmakers
and the stars talk about the preperation and training that went into the
film and they talk about the characters, storyline and setting of the
film, emphasising the realism of the piece.
By concentrating on the more technical aspects of the production, the
bonus features on this DVD release are a lot more interesting that the
usual cast interviews and pats on the back as the actors and filmmakers
effuse on how good the movie is and what a pleasure it was to work with
everyone. This makes for a lot more interesting viewing and some good
featurettes. The exclusion of a commentary track is a bit poor however,
but the other bonus features do slightly make up for this, making fans
quite happy with the release.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
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