Sunday, February 27, 2005

Assault on Precinct 13

Just Another Film Junkie
by Reymundo Salao

Precinct 13 was a police precinct that was set to close down by the end of the year, and on new year's eve, it was going to have its final day of operating as a police station. While the remaining cops inside were having a little new year's eve's party, they were disturbed by some visitors. A prison bus of convict detainees in transit to the next jail facility had to drop by the precinct and spend the evening till the snowstorm would calm down. Among the prisoners was the infamous cop killer Marion Bishop. Later that evening, an army of armed men began storming through the Precinct and wanted Marion Bishop. But the cops of the precinct would not let that happen, and so they fortified the dilapidated precinct and fought back.

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 was directed by Jean-Fran├žois Richet who did a fine job keeping up to the reputation of the John Carpenter original. It was hard-edged and heavy on action-suspense with characters that may seem like action movie stereotypes but maintain an overwhelmingly cool presence that make them extremely likeable. Along with the action, the suspense was also teeth-grittingly immense. It may be due to the marvelous balance of sound and music by Graeme Revell, that vividly captures the emotional mood of the film.

(SPOILER ALERT) ASSAULT has got the finest line-up of performers, with Lawrence Fishburne as the infamous cop killer Marion Bishop, Brian Dennehy as an old-timer policeman on his way to retirement, (HBO-TV's "The Sopranos" and "Joey" actress) Drea De Matteo as the hot slutty-looking secretary Iris, popular rapper Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins as a convict named Smiley, who often refers himself to the third person, and Aisha Hinds as a tommygun-toting gangbanger. There's also the steamingly-attractive Maria Bello as a cop shrink, whose character has had an interesting twist when she ironically becomes the one who's psychologically-troubled when the explosions begin. John Leguizamo plays a junkie convict. Leguizamo is always perfect for playing crazy loudmouth loonies, although it may be a bit redundant for him to take on another role as this, his character still does fit perfectly well with the entire storyline. Gabriel Byrne, as always, plays a charismatic role, even when he plays a villain who's determined to execute all who stand in the way of their plans. And then there's Ethan Hawke who plays the central role as Sgt. Jake Roenick, a jaded cop, hiding behind his depression, alcoholism and (what seems to be) anti-depressant pills, who has a chance to redeem his pathetic self by leading the survivors through a night of siege. Ethan Hawke, who does have a notable acting reputation, is magnificent in this role! Hawke has always had that reputation of playing emotionally deep characters in previous films, and in this film, he takes on such emotional depth with a heavy dosage of moody darkness; noir-like, cynical, lonely and deeply scarred. His transition from his sense of apathy, to the resurfacing determination to be a leader is dramatically interesting to watch. Even the very first scene of the movie where he is undercover as a drug-dealer is remarkably witty. The way he delivers his lines that are heavy in wit, thanks to a well-written script by James DeMonaco. But all credits should indeed ultimately pass to the master writer-director who made the original ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 movie in 1976, the movie of the same title from which this remake is based from, John Carpenter. Indeed this film is worth watching. Superb hard-edged action! A fat-fisted thumbs-up for this film remake!

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