|BACK TO REVIEWS||BACK HOME|
'Assault on Precinct 13' *** 061705
The Work = ***
I bring that up because it is always important to remember that whether a film is a remake or not is not necessarily a qualifier of the film being good or not. There are good remakes and there are bad remakes. I'm a big fan of the original 'Dawn of the Dead' and guess what? I'm a fan of the remake. Is it as good as the original? No. But it didn't try to be the original, it took its own spin on the script and made something exciting and entertaining. Here, now, I am reviewing a remake of the excellent John Carpenter film 'Assault on Precinct 13'.
Is it as good as the original? Once again, no. It is, however, once again, an entertaining one. The new 'Assault on Precinct 13' takes its own spin on the story. For one thing the precinct in the remake is actually the 13th precinct. For those of you that aren't familiar with the Carpenter film, it was made on a very tiny budget. According to Carpenter, when they needed to show the windows being shot up with gunfire, they simply shot the windows with real guns. In the original the assault of the title is on precinct 9 but the distributor thought 13 sounded better so they changed the title and released it.
The original is a slow, plodding, thriller that in many ways is a tip of the hat to the westerns of Howard Hawks and John Ford. (For you film dorks the actor who plays Scar in 'The Searchers', has a role as an officer in the Carpenter film.) Also in Carpenter's film Darwin Joston gave the performance of his career as the most dangerous incarcerated criminal, Napoleon Wilson. For the remake, the filmmakers wisely chose a cast of solid actors that help to keep the film engaging.
For the central criminal they managed to find a suitable replacement in the form of Laurence Fishburne. He plays Marion Bishop, a notorious gangster, with such a cool command that it is easy to see why other characters step back when he steps forward. Fishburne has often impressed me with his screen presence and he, like many great actors, is able to say often ridiculous dialogue and act in over the top situations and somehow make it all seem real and convincing.
Ethan Hawke, Maria Bello, John Leguizamo, Drea de Matteo, Ja Rule, Gabriel Byrne and more fill out the cast of cops and criminals in 'Assault on Precinct 13'. I especially liked Leguizamo’s disheveled look and drugged out performance. The plot is similar in both the original and the remake: a group of cops and criminals spend one last night in a precinct about to close down. While they are there the precinct comes under siege from unknown attackers and the group inside is cut off from the rest of the world and must fight for survival.
Director Jean-Francois Richet keeps things moving along and there are plenty of shootouts and clever quips from the characters. Some of the action sequences, especially as the attacks begin are very exciting and drew me right in. All of the actors gave their characters personality and helped to make them people I cared about. The villains are a largely faceless wave of high tech assailants with unknown motives (with a few exceptions anyway.)
I must say if I had an overall complaint with film, it is that I wish it ended on a bigger note. The opening is very strong and the earlier sequences were so thrilling that the later ones seem kind of bland by comparison. Still I give credit to the filmmakers for making a thorough villain who for follows through with his actions.
At the end of the day ' Assault on Precinct 13' is a pretty good action film. The first half especially rocks. The action has impact, the actors bring spark to their roles and the music helps to build tension. For me, I prefer the original but the remake is certainly not a bad film. I wish the final quarter had packed more of a punch but it is still an enjoyable film. Fans of the genre should really enjoy it and fans of the actors will probably want to check it out.
The DVD = ***
All Together = ***
'Assault on Precint 13' Links:
Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.