Publicity Stills of "Assault On Precinct 13"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Thriller/Action/Crime
Director: Jean-François Richet
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Maria Bello, John Leguizamo, Drea de Matteo
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Violence & Coarse Language)

Release Date: 3 March 2005

Synopsis :

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. Their ensuing struggle leaves the cop dead – and Bishop captured, by the Organized Crime and Racketeering squad that Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne) runs. Bishop is handcuffed and herded onto a prison bus with several criminals: junkie Beck (John Leguizamo), hustler Smiley (Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins), and gang member Anna (Aisha Hinds). But the battering snowstorm stops the bus well short of its high-security destination and strands it at the remote Precinct 13 – where, as night falls, the prisoners are temporarily incarcerated. This influx of prisoners irks Roenick, almost as much as visiting police psychologist Alex Sabian (Maria Bello) does. But Precinct 13’s provocative secretary Iris Ferry (Drea de Matteo) and salty veteran cop Jasper “Old School” O’Shea (Brian Dennehy) won’t let the increasing workload deter them from celebrating…

…until two masked gunmen break in and attack the guards from the bus. The gunmen are just barely beaten back, and everyone inside Precinct 13 realizes that more will come – to extract crime lord Bishop, but also armed and ready to shoot anyone and everyone else. The cops, looking to the reluctant Roenick for leadership, and the cons, looking to the steely Bishop for an angle, must join forces to live. Fortifying themselves with minimal weaponry and maximum courage, they will not go gently into the bad night. As they fight to the death, the thin lines between good and bad bleed together.

Movie Review:

You know “Assault on Precinct 13” is going to be downright gritty, dirty and bloody when the movie opens with police sergeant Jake Roenick (the multi-talented Ethan Hawke) on a botched undercover mission. Within minutes and an attention grabbing opening, you find Jack on a desk job at the soon to be closed Precinct 13 eight months later.

A good shootout movie can’t work without a villain, right? In comes crime lord Bishop (played by the compelling Laurence Fishburne who has piled up a couple of kilos since “The Matrix” trilogy) who was captured after killing a cop. Shortly after, he’s sent along with three other small-time crooks on a bus to the prison. AP13’s pacing is pretty swift, things start to move into fourth gear when the group of police and crooks are stuck in Precinct 13 during the heavy snowstorm and masked gunmen appeared to confront the gang.

The twist is the supposed masked gunmen are no ordinary criminals, they are in fact a team of elite force from the police led by Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Bryne) who has hooked up with Bishop for the past ten years splitting dirty money between themselves. Now Duvall and team have only one thing in mind: Silence Bishop and those who knew the corruption.

Being trapped inside the building with all forms of communication cutoff, the cops have to join hands with the crooks to fight against the intruders. Director
Jean-Francois Richet (who helmed from France) and screenwriter James DeMonaco succeeds in creating the tension during the siege and the gun fires are commendable for it’s brutalness, realism which is why it’s rated NC-16. But of course you have to discard the unbelievable idea whereby a group of elite SWAT members armed with the most sophisticated weaponry ever found in the world today can be defeated by a few pistols and alcohols. Besides this point however, Richet failed to further exploit the limited compounds of Precinct 13 instead ending the chapter in the forest area which is supposedly near the station. It would be a better standoff if both parties were able to fight themselves out on the station itself.

Ethan Hawke who was seen as a rookie in “Training Day” is convincing enough as the despondent Roenick, trying to put his life back on track. Seeing Hawke and Fishburne pitting against each other and joining hands simultaneously is a pleasure. Gabriel Bryne is wasted as the good “bad” guy. Spouting countable dialogue and screentime, Bryne is reduced to a cardboard villain. The rest of the supporting cast liked John Leguizamo, Maria Bello and Drea de Matteo has also tried their best given their limited roles.

It’s not a must know to walk into the theater with knowledge that AP13 is actually a remake of an old John Carpenter’s movie. There is nothing extraordinary about the plotting. Just buy your admit ticket if you wish to see a good old intense shoot out movie with some neat twists towards the end.

Movie Rating: B+

Review by Linus.T.

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