Cast: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo, Maria Bello, Brian Dennehy, Drea de Matteo, Ja Rule, Gabriel Byrne, Kim Coates, Matt Craven
Director: Jean-François Richet
Rated: MA 15+ medium level violence
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Unite And Fight
With only a few hours left in the calendar year, Precinct 13, one of Detroit's oldest precinct houses, is closing. Amid heavy snowfall and unsafe road conditions, only a few lawmen remain on duty for New Year's Eve. They are headed by Sergeant Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke), a good cop wrestling with bad memories of a fatal undercover op from the previous spring. Roenick and Precinct 13 have both seen better days. Early on December 31st, deep in the city, formidable crime lord Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), is cornered by an undercover cop. The cop is killed during their struggle and Bishop is captured and escorted to Precinct 13 with three other prisoners where they are temporarily incarcerated. Later, as the remaining Precinct 13 staff are celebrating New Year's Eve, two masked gunmen break in as they try to assassinate Bishop. What follows is a battle between the two the forces of good cop versus bad cop and a fight to the death.
As Jake Roenick, Ethan Hawke opens 'Assault on Precinct 13' with a solid performance as an undercover cop about to bust some drug dealers. The mission is jeopardised and both of Roenicks partners in the mission are killed. Cut to 8 months later and Roenick is now a sergeant at Precinct 13, still suffering physically and mentally from his previous failed assignment, including receiving medical evaluations from Dr Alex Sabian (Maria Bello) whom he thinks is hot for him. It's New Year's Eve and the Precinct's closure is imminent, when 4 unscheduled prisoners are diverted to the holding cells due to inclement weather. One of these prisoners is crime lord Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), who looks pretty menacing and not to be messed with. A few hours later and the precinct is fired upon and Roenick and the other staff realise that someone is out to capture or kill Bishop. It's then up to them to secure the safety of the prisoners until the morning when help will hopefully arrive - phone lines have been cut, mobile phones scrambled.
'Assault on Precinct 13' is an action packed remake of John Carpenters 1976 movie of the same name, where the well-used good cop v bad cop scenario is played out with plenty of twists and surprises to keep you guessing just who are the goodies and who are the baddies. All the players inside the precinct join forces to protect themselves from the outside invaders even though they shouldn't, and it's Fishburne's character who realises that it's him they want as he is about to rat on the dirty cops of Detroit.
There are enough different characters to keep the interest maintained, from Fishburne's almost deadpan, brooding gangster Bishop role, Maria Bello as the obsessive-compulsive doctor Sabian, the ever-gorgeous Brian Dennehy as the retiring Jasper O'Shea and Gabriel Byrne in yet another baddie role as the rogue, bent cop Marcus Duvall. It soon becomes a battle of wits as to who has the most determination to win. Most of the action takes place inside Precinct 13, with the final showdown taking place in a forest not far away, although it's unclear just how the remaining participants came to be there.
This is a fairly violent film, with numerous killings, some totally unexpected, and plenty of gung-ho back and forth gunfire. Ethan Hawke rates as the best player, with a very credible performance as Roenick and the rest of the cast offer plenty of decent support, even though the script sometimes became a tad trite. Essentially, 'Assault on Precinct 13' is well worth a viewing and offers much in suspense and the thrill stakes, even if we do somehow know what the ending will be, long before it arrives.
Rating : B