Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

Year: 2005
Director: Jean-François Richet
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Maria Bello, John Legiuzamo, Gabriel Byrne, Ja Rule, Brian Dennehy
I gave up on the original John Carpenter cult classic. I know many people will want to lynch me for this, but I turned it off after nothing but mundane setting up had happened for close to forty minutes. Maybe I missed something special; it had failed to hold my interest long enough for me to find out.

The remake opens with a bang; Ethan Hawke at the top of his game as an apparent crackhead scoring a deal, but who turns out to be an undercover cop on a sting.

From there we slowly but surely descend from indie crime drama to Hollywood thriller. That's not to say it's bad; it's high quality entertainment all the way through, even though the story descends to a level of predictable equilibrium.

We meet crime lord Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), being transported through a snowstorm that's descended on Detroit on New Year's Eve.

For the skeleton crew of Precinct 13, soon to be closed down and almost empty of staff and equipment, it's a bad night. Bishop and a bus full of dope fiends and petty crooks have to stop overnight at Precinct 13 on their way to their official stop - the storm is too bad to try and transport them.

No sooner does everybody get settled for a quiet night in after the countdown, commandos descend on the outpost like classic gringos blockading the saloon in an old western (a big part of the influence for Carpenter's original, in Rio Bravo).

Early on, a lot of great scripting and acting draws the characters you come to invest more emotion in than the usual action film fare, and milestones of genuine shock (such as the execution of heroine Bello) follow a fairly by-numbers plot, but the thrills keep things pleasantly buoyant and the result is a great action thriller.

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