Action buffs will have a fine time with the spray of bullets, shattering glass, and pyrotechnic silliness that makes up the bulk of Assault on Precinct 13
. Updated from the little-known cops-and-robbers classic John Carpenter made in 1976 (two years before he made his name with Halloween
), this high-concept thriller is mostly a lowbrow kill-fest, and is very happy with itself for being so efficient in both categories. A decrepit police station on its last night before retirement--New Year's Eve, no less--plays unexpected home to a gang of criminals who become snowbound in the basement lockup. Another mysterious gang of people who stealthily gather in the blizzard outside want one of the particularly nasty criminals (Laurence Fishburne) dead, and they'll take the rest of the precinct down too, by golly. The odd lot of characters trapped inside include a burned-out sergeant (Ethan Hawke), a sexpot secretary (post-Sopranos
Drea de Matteo), an even sexier police psychologist (Maria Bello), and various other good guys and bad guys who variously go down in blazes of guts, glory, bullets, and fire. Hawke and Fishburne are opposite sides of the coin: the law, and the bathroom scale. Their need to partner in order to survive the guns outside is the movie's moral conflict, and both actors chew on Precinct 13
's peeling walls and scuffed floors to drive the point home every chance they get. Obvious filmmaking fakery abounds in everything from the irksome snowstorm, frequent gunshots to the head, and a shadowy forest that conveniently presents itself in an industrial section of Detroit for the climactic showdown. No matter, this Assault
is for non-thinkers who want blood and gunpowder, with no messy slowdowns for logic, please.--Ted Fry
Action-packed remake of the John Carpenter classic. On New Year's Eve, inside an under-manned Detroit police station that's about to be closed for good, officer Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke) must bring together cops and criminals to save themselves from a group of rogue cops intent on killing mobster Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne).