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|Index||210 reviews in total|
47 out of 62 people found the following review useful:
Nowehere near as good as the original, but worth a viewing, 6 February 2005
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
A remake of John Carpenter's superior film of the same title from 1976,
Assault on Precinct 13 concerns a siege on a largely abandoned police
station, which is related to the presence of a notorious criminal,
Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne). It's left up to a ragtag group of
police employees and criminals to defend themselves.
I should start by noting that I absolutely love Carpenter's original film. In my view it is one of his best, perfectly capturing the suburban desolation of 1970s Los Angeles, and exquisitely suspenseful and horrifying, even though it's not really a horror film. Despite that, when this remake of Assault on Precinct 13 began, I had high hopes for it. The first scene is well directed, well shot, with excellent dialogue. It turns into an intense action scene at just the right moment, and results in some realistic, gritty deaths. The opening is as good as anything in the Carpenter film.
Unfortunately, Assault on Precinct 13's excellence ended right there. It's not exactly a bad film--I enjoyed it more often than not, but it does have more than its share of flaws. In the end, my rating average out to a 7 out of 10. Recommendable, but with reservations.
The first problem is that director Jean-Francois Richet tries to do too much--too much backstory, too many characters, too many over-the-top characters, too many quick cuts, too much shaky hand-held camera work, too many "big action moves", too many explosions, too many settings, and it's too dark. That the film is often so quickly edited and dark makes it too often difficult to see what's going on in the action scenes. Carpenter's film succeeded by being very taut, economical, sober and logical in its directorial style. Richet tries to one-up the original by forgoing all of those qualities. By the second or third scene, I was fairly confused. Superfluous characters were popping in and out, people were mumbling dialogue, and there was a whole complex backstory being hinted at and not spelled out very well.
The brutal shooting near the beginning of the original film, which sets off the whole sequence of events, was dropped--that thread was completely removed from the film. It was lamentable in that this new Assault loses much of the simple, sensible drive the thread provided, and it was surely a decision based on political correctness. Likewise, Bishop is not allowed to be a clear-cut bad guy here. That saps some of the effectiveness out of his cooperation. In this film, he might be mostly tough talk. The other criminals in the film are either left largely unexplained or guilty of only petty or consensual crimes. I find this kind of political correctness in films reprehensible, although I realize it's primarily a studio decision.
On the positive side, the villains here were cleverly conceived, and their nature makes them much more menacing physically. On the negative side, however, Richet lost the Night of the Living Dead (1968) zombie-like nature of the marauders, which saps suspense from the attacks. The logistics of the defense of the police station and details of their dilemma are not very clearly scripted or staged, either, which doesn't help. Another flaw is that some intruders seem to inexplicably hesitate. Another positive, though, is that Richet's film brings back a few small details, such as the capture of the criminal at the beginning of the film, and a substance addiction in one of the heroes leading to a character transformation, found in Rio Bravo (1959), the film that in conjunction with Night of the Living Dead, was the main inspiration for Carpenter's original film.
Also on the positive side, this Assault has a skilled (and much more well known) cast. Even though Richter occasionally directed them to be a bit too over-the-top, the performances hit many very interesting notes. And a few of the additions to the original film, such as a Mexican standoff and a couple later scenes outside the police station were excellent. The increased firepower here may also be to some viewer's liking.
A viewer less fond of the original, or even unfamiliar with the original, may like Assault better than I did. I may have even liked it better if the original were not so fresh in my memory (I just watched it again it recently--a review is forthcoming). There are enough redeeming aspects for action fans to make it worth at least a rental or a viewing on cable, but approach the film with lowered expectations.
42 out of 61 people found the following review useful:
An exciting, violent action film!, 4 May 2005
Author: Chris Gavez (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Canada
Now, before you criticize me, I have never seen the original John
Carpenter version of this film. Being a huge fan, I really should see
it, and after seeing this remake, I will definitely track down the
original to see if it is as good as this film. I had a blast!
New Years in Detroit, a cold winter's morning as Precinct 13 prepares to close it's doors and move to a new building. There are only three people in the building on New Year's Eve, and as a storm draws closer, a criminal being transported to a maximum security center is re-routed to the deserted precinct. Only, there are some other people that would like to get closer to the villain.
Very exciting story and excellent acting by both Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishbourne take this action over the edge. Some people may find the film ultra violent, but violence on the big screen never bothered me, so I enjoyed it quite a lot! Definitely worth a look for action fans, and fans of the original who are curious. However, those that are disturbed by violent images, would like to steer clear of this film.
52 out of 82 people found the following review useful:
A good cast and one terrifically exciting action sequence keep afloat an otherwise average film., 21 January 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rating: ** 1/2 out of ****
A lot of people will likely hate this movie by virtue of the fact that it's a remake. Being open-minded, I'm not offended by the thought of a beloved cult classic getting a Hollywood remake; it is, after all, quite interesting to see how the big-budget treatment affects the same premise. In this case, the result is not too shabby at all, certainly better than the ads would indicate, even if this is a remake that doesn't stand on its own nearly as well as Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead.
Assault on Precinct 13 (referred to as AP13 from here on out) stars Ethan Hawke as cop Jake Roenick, a former undercover officer who's now strictly on desk duty after a horrible mishap that resulted in the deaths of two fellow officers. It's his last day (coincidentally also New Year's Eve) in Precinct 13, and he's simply overseeing the transfer along with another cop (Brian Dennehy) and a secretary (Drea de Matteo).
Due to the snowy conditions, a prison bus transferring dangerous cop-killer Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) is forced to take refuge in Precinct 13. But it becomes clear soon enough that there are a large number of corrupt cops surrounding the precinct, determined to kill Bishop and every possible witness inside. Faced with no other options, Roenick frees and arms the prisoners, using whatever means necessary to battle against the far more numerous and better armed enemy.
John Carpenter's 1976 cult hit was a fairly effective thriller, maintaining an atmospheric claustrophobia that balanced nicely with the well-choreographed shootouts. Though there are many differences between these versions, both plot-wise and stylistically, this remake essentially opts for the same brand of edge-of-the-seat excitement, but as is par for this generation's offerings, the action sequences are pumped up with a lot more firepower and a lot less plausibility.
As silly as Carpenter's film may have seemed to the discriminating viewer, it was a smartly plotted thriller with only a few minor holes. This remake, on the other hand, is riddled with all sorts of logical inconsistencies. The most obvious one? In less than a day, the head of the corrupt team of cops (played by Gabriel Byrne) is somehow able to assemble his men on very short notice and arm them with top-notch weaponry that must have been hell to sign out from the armory (he even calls in a chopper at one point). And as the body count significantly rises, one has to wonder how he plans to cover up the massive blood shed (blaming it on Bishop's men doesn't quite explain how his own men were killed or what they were doing at the precinct).
The body count is almost bafflingly low considering the numbers mentioned (Byrne says he's got 33 men, hard to believe corruption could spread to every one of them); I could swear fewer characters were killed than were even involved in the entire film. Other problems include a scene where Byrne chooses to execute a survivor rather than use this person as a bargaining chip, and as the number of survivors within the station dwindles down, one character conveniently remembers an escape route just as the building's about to be invaded.
The climax, a disappointingly rote cat-and-mouse chase, is set in a forest apparently right by the station, but I could have sworn an overhead shot established the precinct in an entirely urban section of Detroit. Along with the sagging pace in the second half, predictability also hampers the suspense, it's too easy to figure out who's going to die and in what order. The identity of the traitor is also another easy guess, considering the very tiny list of suspects still around by that point.
For all these nagging flaws, the film is still worth mildly recommending for one lengthy, high-octane action setpiece. The first major invasion of the precinct is a thrilling sequence, every bit the equal of the similar siege in the original, though louder and faster-paced. The action even boasts a little bit of strategy and some mild thought. Other action scenes are competently handled, but lack the claustrophobic edge of the shootouts set within the precinct.
The cast is mostly first-rate, even Ethan Hawke, who usually does little more than coast by on his best Tom Cruise impersonation. Laurence Fishburne, channeling a darker version of Morpheus, does well with what little material he has to work with, and it's fun to see Brian Dennehy barking up a storm again. Of the two female leads, Maria Bello is the one with more "depth," but she's almost fatally annoying as the whiny psychologist. Drea de Matteo, on the other hand, is one of those rare women who somehow still looks sexy even when she's dressed as a hooker (or is she sexy because she's dressed that way?). Gabriel Byrne makes a solid impression despite the limited screen time, and Ja Rule and John Leguizamo are apparently only on hand to provide some truly lame comic relief and take equal turns participating in one very gruesome beating.
AP13 came very close to getting a two-star rating from me, but in this day and age when action films need sci-fi, fantasy or horror elements to succeed, there's no denying this film is better than the usual lot churned from Hollywood. This remake is an earnest attempt in crafting an edge-of-the-seat thriller and even if it only gets halfway there, that's still better than most pure action movies these days.
40 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Generic but Enjoyable, 16 May 2005
On a snowy New Year's Eve, a police station where a bus full of
convicts has been jailed comes under attack from corrupt policemen,
forcing a police sergeant with a cloudy past (Ethan Hawke) to team with
a ruthless mob boss (Lawrence Fishburne) to try to keep them at bay.
The original was a pretty good film so I'm still confused about the need to remake it. Yes, it was a little outdated but the film still worked fine. I was expecting the remake to be really bad since the trailer looked lackluster and Ethan Hawke isn't that good of an actor. However, this update turned out to be a decent film. It doesn't approach the original in quality but at least it doesn't insult the original either. They do change some things from the original though that didn't really bother me. Actually, it's kind of better that they tried it in a different way instead of doing it exactly the same (paging Psycho) and there was more reason to remake it.
The performances were okay, nothing special. Ethan Hawke was okay as Roenick. He would sometimes go over the top and he was a little weak at some points. Laurence Fishburne was better than Ethan but still only average. Ja Rule actually gives a good performance for a rapper though he doesn't get a lot of screen time. John Leguizamo was okay, kind of dull. Maria Bello gave the best performance out of everyone and she is a pretty underrated actress. Gabriel Byrne was just meh while Drea de Matteo was clearly there for eye candy and nothing more.
Jean-François Richet does a decent job at directing and he manages to create some suspense. However, he does keep the film simple and most of the twists are obvious. The script is generic and weak with a lot of clichés and little in the way of originality. The action sequences are slick and enjoyable but they are also kind of sparse. The movie also becomes dull from time to time even though the film isn't really that long. There is also little character development so it's hard to feel sorry for some of these people. The remake is really just a semi-enjoyable, generic action film. It fails to surpass the original in most categories but it still stands as a decent film. In the end, Assault on Precinct 13 is a decent action film and it's worth checking out. Rating 6/10
57 out of 100 people found the following review useful:
Assault on Precinct 13, 8 February 2005
Author: J-FLY from United States
I did not think I was going to like this remake of the 1976 cult favorite. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. The movie was fun. The characters were likable. The action was well paced. The sets and backgrounds were excellent, giving the viewer a feeling of desolation and dread that the original movie had in abundance. I originally heard that Ethan Hawke's character was the same as his character in "Training Day", but I totally disagree. Oddly enough, both characters were named Jake. So, they were both young police officers named Jake who were going through a rough period, but Ethan Hawke played both differently. This is not a movie to bring your kids to; too much violence. This might be a good date movie, but not a first date movie. All in all, I give "Assault on Precinct 13" (2005) an A-. If you want to have fun, watch it. - JFLY
23 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Not as good as the originals, but still worthwhile for action fans, 30 May 2005
Author: krorie from Van Buren, Arkansas
This is a remake of a remake and yet still packs a punch. I've seen the original "Rio Bravo" several times, including when it first came out. It was masterfully done and was one of the Duke's best movies from the 1950's. I saw John Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" when it first came out in 1976 and remember it as being one of Carpenter's best movies. Now we have another version with basically the same characters including the drunk, originally played by Dean Martin, who is tested by the struggle for survival and eventually passes with flying colors. When I first heard the Christmas music in the movie, it took me a moment to grasp the reason for the Dean Martin selection until I realized it was the producer's way of paying homage to the crooner's performance in "Rio Bravo." This would be more entertaining for those who have not seen the originals. This remake follows the originals to the point of spoiling some of the surprises intended. I won't go into detail on this since it would then spoil the surprises for those who have not seen the originals. The story is there; the action is there; and the entertainment is there, especially for those who are seeing it for the first time.
49 out of 88 people found the following review useful:
This is a movie about Precinct 13. An assault on it ensues., 19 January 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Keeping watch over a rundown Police Precinct on an icy New Year's Eve
night sure sounds simple enough. What could possibly go wrong? Welp,
check your Action Movie Clichés Dictionary and you'll find the answer.
Problems arise when a van transporting Laurence Fishburne and other
hardened criminals to the city jail finds itself unable to traverse
Detroit's icy streets. What are the viable options? I'll give you a
clue - there is only one ... DING DING DING ... Take up residence at
the nearby Precinct 13 for the night.
OK, no big deal. The night might not be as quiet as hoped for, but how hard can it be to baby-sit this group of punks? There's John Lequizamo as the drugged out Puerto Rican. Then there's Ja Rule as the "gangsta" who refers to himself in the 3rd person. And then there's some chick who is cursed to forever be recognized as "the black, manly-looking chick who guest-starred on (fill in name of cop/forensics show)." Oh, wait. Then there's Laurence Fishburne. The only intimidating guy in the bunch. He could be a big problem because he's one of the most notorious mobsters/gangsters in town.
As expected, Fishburne does indeed become the key to everything. It doesn't take long for a few masked invaders to storm the Precinct. They want Fishburne. The cops originally assume that it's Fishburne's men trying to help him escape, but we all know that's not the case. Rogue cops haven't been invoked yet, and rogue cops always make an appearance in an action film like this, so who's after Fishburne? ROGUE COPS! You see, they've had some dirty dealings with Fishburne, and they fear their corruption might be exposed if he talks. They have no choice but to eliminate him. I'm sure it was a big moral dilemma for them, but a choice had to be made.
This is where the fun begins. Because he and his men are badly outnumbered, Roenick decides to arm the four prisoners. That's cute and all, but what happens if the siege is diverted? Roenick tells the prisoners they'll remain under arrest, and they'll "figure it all out later," but I'm thinking a group of armed thugs will take exception to that, especially after helping cops survive an attack by other cops.
Oh well, what can you do? It's at this point that the bullets and the clichés start raining down on us harder that Ike Turner's fists on an ex-wife. You're not gonna walk out of this movie soused with originality, but who cares? This is just solid, action movie fun. You'll ooh, you'll ahh, you'll grimace, and you'll make fun of the cheese. Allow me to share some of my favorite ridicule-worthy clichés from the movie:
* Rogue cops magically block everybody's cell phone signals. We're not really given a reasonable explanation. I guess the director thought they needed to answer the "why can't they use their cell phones to call for help" question but neglected to realize people might wander how the signals were blocked. It's called movie magic.
* Professional snipers apparently can't hit the broadside of Rosie O'Donnell's monolithic buttocks from a few feet away. Oh, they hit all around their targets; they just can't hit the actual target. My favorite example is when a couple of the prisoners are outside hiding behind a snow bank. The sniper can see the prisoners behind the snow, but he responds with, "I don't have a shot." THEY'RE BEHIND SNOW! When, in the history of the world, has soft, fluffy snow ever stopped a bullet? * Bad guys "monologue-ing" instead of shooting. Why do bad guys insist on giving long speeches before killing their adversary? The speech is always juuuuuuust long enough to allow the adversary to escape the desperate situation he faces. Do movie bad guys not watch movies? You'd think they'd learn.
* A completely unsurprising plot "twist." Stevie Wonder called; he said he saw it coming a few miles away.
But again, who cares? If you can buy the 5'9" 150 lb Ethan Hawke as a tough guy cop, then everything else should be easy to swallow.
One thing that I appreciated, a facet that will probably be lost on the average soccer mom, is the movie's "show no mercy" attitude in regard to who gets killed and how. In movie land, the rules clearly state that all innocent people should survive, all actors who are somewhat recognizable should survive, and no animals are to be harmed. Clearly, Assault on Precinct 13 wasn't made aware of these rules. I warn you now, don't get too attached to any particular character. Everybody is fair game for a graphic bullet to the head. And if you're squeamish when it comes to violence towards animals, well, keep in mind that a dog actually gets punched in the face.
I just wish there had been a better lead actor for me to cheer for. Hawke is serviceable as the head cop, but I've just never been a huge fan. The fact that Fishburne could obviously snap him over his knee, and I would have had no problem with that, doesn't help. I think the biggest thing hurting Hawke is that records confirm that the name on his birth certificate is NOT "Tom Cruise." Someone needs to alert him of this fact and tell him to drop the impersonation.
THE GIST Assault on Precinct 13 is an action movie for the Grand Theft Auto video game crowd. It's loud, it's fast-paced, it's profane, and it's in your face. It doesn't pretend to aspire to be great art. The goal is to entertain, and the goal is achieved. If you're squeamish with violence, or if you're looking for intellectual enlightenment, then I recommend looking elsewhere.
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
A nuisance, 10 February 2007
Author: info-11400 from Germany
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Why remake the original "Assault"? To my mind "Assault" was Carpenter's true masterpiece. It had all the elements good Carpenter movies contain. External threat on a small group of individuals. People taking the challenge because they are forced to do so. Isolation! Just remember, the guns in Carpenter's original made no sound, being thus a lot more threatening than conventional devices. And now this remake. Concentrating on "main character I"s psychology and on his relation to main character II (the evil but honorable). The anonymous threat in the Carpenter movie replaced by a rather conventional conspiracy/corruption background. The "remakers" just didn't understand the main plot of the original. And thus produced something pretty ordinary.
11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Intense, wild, well-acted thriller - just a tad absurd, 14 December 2006
Author: mstomaso from Vulcan
Jean Richet's remake of the Carpenter thriller Assault on Precinct 13
is surprisingly entertaining. Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) loses the
Carpenteresque weirdness and soundtrack, and tells the story of a
remote, run-down police precinct under assault using more conventional
cinematography and production. This is an achievement, but not because
of the difficulty of following in the footsteps of Carpenter - because
the film entertains without doing so, and because the narrative - just
like all of Carpenter's films- manages to keep going without regard for
the improbability of the plot. In other words, the Director kept a
straight face and made the film entertaining enough to allow for a
certain amount of suspended disbelief.
Strong, fast, characterization - part of the legacy of Carpenter's film - makes a big difference early on. The cast is uniformly excellent and the main characters - unusual for this genre - are all unique, believable and consistent. Fishburn plays a big bad guy incarcerated by fiat in the small, run-down Precinct 13. Hawke is the Sergeant in charge of the precinct - a man with psychological and drug problems associated with a traumatic event which opens the film. These two improbable allies must pool their resources to defend the precinct against... who?
The film is first and foremost an action film. The action is typical for the genre as of 2005 - i.e. - much of what takes place is only believable because of its entertainment value and internal consistently. Suspense is well constructed throughout the film, and the pace of the film reaches a frenetic level about 1/3rd of the way through, never letting up. The cinematography is surprisingly dissimilar to the original. Richet's film is more of a standard suspense thriller than anything bearing Carpenter's signature.
Recommended for its entertainment value, solid cast, and well-constructed (though somewhat ridiculous) plot.
13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Sloppy, boring remake, 22 April 2005
Author: larsthebellhop (email@example.com) from Gilleleje, Denmark
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I didn't have much hope for this when I when went to Copenhagen to see
this remake of the '76 film, which isn't a masterpiece itself, but
highly entertaining and one of Carpenter's best.
So when I came out of the theater, I wasn't that disappointed. It was as bad as I thought it would be. Hollywoodized for the average viewer's enjoyment. Quick cuts and flashy shots. It doesn't take its time to tell the story.
One of the problems is the clichés. I almost laughed when Jasper (Brian Dennehy) said "I'm retiring in two days", or something of the sort. You just know that he'll be dead before the credits roll. Also, even the biggest retard in the audience can figure out halfway through the movie that he's a bad guy.
Another thing is that the situation is not believable. In the original "Assault" it was crazed gang members that was attacking the station, but now it's 33 top trained S.W.A.T. members. No way can 8 people hold them off. But I guess it's the corrupt cop's (played by a very dull Gabriel Byrne) own damn fault; First he sends three S.W.A:T.'s in to take care of business, and when they get killed off, what does he do then? He sends in three more! If he would just send in all their guys at once, Ethan Hawke and co. would be dead and buried 45 minutes into the film and I wouldn't have missed my train home.
And that brings me to the likable characters. There aren't any. When Beck, a paranoid junkie who won't shut up, is the most likable of the bunch, you know it's bad. For instance, there's the annoying, playboy pin-up psychologist. Or the convict who refers to himself in the third person (how totally funny). Laurence Fishburne does what he can with this, but I'm getting tired of him.
And Ja Rule does an extremely poor job. Why do people keep hiring rappers/singers in movies? They don't make good actors, with few exceptions like Meat Loaf's Bob in Fight Club and Björk's Selma in Dancer in the Dark.
This remake doesn't have the charm or watch-ability as the original "Assault" has, and Lars doesn't like that.
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