A skin head babbling incessantly on his sales talk to a less than eager customer suddenly becomes a shoot out, ending up with three people killed while two of them were undercover police officers…
Based on John Carpenter’s 1976 film! Assault in Precinct 13 is a high octane action thriller that gives the edge of your seat experience even coming from just a simple objective premise. Director Jean-Francois Richet (Inner City) grew up in a neighbourhood where violence was exercised everyday. From these experiences, he was able to capture the needed surrealistic theme of the film which is not also ashamed to use reckless profanity, where even cops need to be assertive on their righteous demeanour as “protectors” of the city! Also, Producer Jeffrey Silver (Training Day) teams up with Ethan once again from the film that gave Denzel Washington his Best Actor Award back in 2001!
Screenplay by James DeMonaco (The Negotiator) makes the opening really great, fluid storytelling follows through up until the end! It is naturally well paced and delivered by the characters, considering only the prominent ones. It’s spontaneous and responsive to every banter, sarcasm even the flirting is unwarranted and yet inclusive to the bigger picture. That makes this film noteworthy, even if it was a remakes it still give you that feeling of involvement and excitement!
Production Designer Paul Denham Austerberry (Exit Wounds) makes the ambiance of set surreal while using basic innovations in constructing the jail house taking pictures from actual places and incorporating them to the best of his ability with his team to improvise everything to make it look authentic enough for the audience to immerse themselves.
Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise) wakes up in a disoriented state, his room is a mess as he gulps a bottle of alcohol and heads in front of the mirror taking painkillers! He plays Sgt. Jake Roenick who has been sidelined for a desk job after a bust gone wrong less than a year ago!
Dr. Alex Sabian doesn’t forget her appointments and it will be done even if there is a snow storm! Maria Bello (Coyote Ugly) is the straightforward psychiatrist whose contribution helps give the main protagonist a little self-esteem and motivation to forget his guilt in the past and let him move on with his life! Some actresses has a specific role and Maria has this one in the bag, considering that she had some movies which aren’t making any heads turn at least she was chosen to portray a headstrong Doctor that needs to clear her head once in a while! (pun intended)
Laurence Fishburne (Fled) is top of the food chain gangster Marion Bishop he is a ruthless as he is brilliant in scheming millions from his illegal operations in Detroit. Laurence give him a very cold killing instinct while being a smooth talker and that’s what the prolific actor injects to his character.
Beck is a part time lawyer, a part time addict and convict! John Leguizamo (Summer of Sam) has always a barrel of laughs considering how intensive his delivery has always been needless to say that a very charismatic actor that can meld in with drama, comedy and action all at the same time!
Senior Officer and Head of OCRS (Organized Crime and Racketeering Squad) Capt. Marcus Duvall is being torn with bad blood and his reputation as a “good cop”, he is portrayed by Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata). His starkly exterior shows no leniency for what has been done to one of his team members and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I wish they make a film for Al Pacino and him in a family mob or brother cop story that would be very interesting to make!
Supporting cast, veteran Actor Brian Dennehy (Rambo: First Blood) Sgt. Jasper O’Shea is the retiring Officer at least this time his not beating up a fully-decorated soldier who just came out from the war! While the Secretary of the decrepit house is “bad boy enthusiast” Iris Ferry! Drea de Matteo (Swordfish) her fetish for these types of men have at least a reason for her to be on-board and support the home team while trying to walk away with a few lesson of her own!
I like these type of films where you can see the irony of a holiday supposedly full of happiness together with your family and loved ones and yet, you’re stuck in closing down building, with two workmates, a recurring conscience, a maelstrom, unwanted prisoners furthermore don’t forget the people with tactical gear and automatic weapons who are out there to kill you! I can think of law and order films like “Die Hard”, “Money Train” and “Eastern Promises” that has same type of visceral violence while other people are warming up in a fireplace with a hot cocoa and pudding!
What makes it utterly blurry is the inconsistencies on the snowstorm! In which Photography was directed by Robert Gantz (Mindhunters) while delivering the crooks in precinct 13, the blustery snow upfront the driver’s windshield suddenly changes as it dies down when the camera pans out at the actual driving scene. Another concern was the slow dialogue between the characters in the first half of the film while trying to have that desire to live, Sgt. Roenick needs to assert himself that this time no one has to die in his watch while two opposing ideologies play in from both inside and outside the precinct, who are the ones are going to survive the night…let fate decide!
Semper Fidelis and a Happy New Year to one and all!!!
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