D. Knouse | vancouver, washington United States | 06/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Going in I was expecting an Action film with two-dimensional characters and loads of gunfire caught on film with shaky camera shots to make them seem more violent than they already are. Instead of adhering to conventional 'Action' film nonsense and one-liners, however, the makers of this film have created a story where the characters are either likeable or interesting to watch and the violence is both realistic and often incredibly brutal. There are some cliche' plot twists that appear at the expected times, but to the credit of these storytellers they do not dwell on them as if the audience should somehow be wowed or shocked by the revelation(s). Thus any predictability is overshadowed by quicksilver action sequences or character-driven moments that are equally intense. This film has a strong cast of actors led by a very capable director and a fantastic production staff that give this film more style and substance than is typical of the genre. The photography is excellent and elevates the look of this movie to a highly professional level, as do all the technical aspects such as stuntwork and gunfire during the many firefights. The action is bloody, to put it mildly, with some gruesome kills that made even a seasoned Action film fan like myself cringe and wince. What I especially love about this film and with very few other Action flicks is that all the characters either get hurt or mortally wounded at some point during the story. No one escapes unscathed. In most other Action movies it gets ridiculous to see characters running through a swarm of bullets and not getting hit; for that alone, "Assault on Precinct 13" should be raised above the average Action film fare and revered for its exceptional use of violence as a means to an end rather than as a flashy way in which to deceive an audience into forgiving a film for falling flat during the quieter moments. Both Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburn lead the way with their star-power and the rest of the cast rally around them to help the viewers care about each and every one of them. This film is a pleasant surprise and a solid addition to the Action film genre. Thank you."
But, there was so much potential!
Rob | New York | 06/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'll cut to the chase. It's a decent flick with a few really kick a$$ scenes that COULD have been MUCH better, but as it is, it's only barely worth a rental. Certainly its not worth a purchase. Why? Read on.
1. Apparently, many people in the flick are AMAZING shots. During the flick, not less than people get killed with perfect headshots ranging in distances from 150+ feet away to point-blank range. Every one winds up with their eyes wide open and a neat little hole in their head (even when some of the ammunition used would have made their heads explode like melons if they took a shot like that). From .50 cals to .9mm, it doesn't matter.
2. Alternatively, the same people who get amazing headshots in once scene are the same people who couldn't hit the side of a barn with a shotgun in the next scene. In one part, there are four people, standing perfectly still firing full automatics at one another from a distance of about 12 feet, and not only does no one get killed, no one even takes a hit! What?
3. Lawrence Fishburne is essentially Morpheus again. As soon as he started talking I was like "you gotta be kidding me, right?" Same "cool" mannerisms, same tone of voice, same inflections, same quasi-religious comments, its almost comical. I was wondering when he was going to start talking about Neo.
4. Speaking of which, its interesting that apparently Mr. Fishburnes character is this incredibly powerful gangster, yet no one from his organization seems to care when he's arrested, taken into custody, or anything. For such a dangerous man, he certainly seems to have to deal with the situation completely on his own. There isn't even a hint that anyone from his gang cares at all that he's been taken away.
5. There is one scene where the bad guys flood the building with laser scopes. I assume that each laser sight is attached to a rifle or machine pistol, right? So what happened to all of them? There were like 30! Did they all just go home after that scene?
6. The "bad guys" obviously just want to kill everyone in the precinct. There is no indication that they want ANYONE alive. So if that's the case, why do they ONLY rely on flash grenades? At least twice they chucked flash-bangs at the main characters and successfully blinded them, when a simple grenade would have taken them all out.
Maybe I'm being too cynical, but when I watch movies like this, it makes me wonder how stupid the director thinks the audience is. We have to suspend disbelief to a certain degree, but when a movie makes you go "Oh, PLEASE! Is this a joke?" more than a few times, you know they went wrong somewhere. "
J. A. Bellamy | Dallas, TX USA | 02/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Assault on Precinct 13 ('05) compares with Assault on Precinct 13 ('76) only in concept. The former is a big budget, star-studded, cop drama while the latter is a lower budget, gritty, near remake of Night of the Living Dead using gang members in place of zombies. While the old John Carpenter film might loose certain viewers due to its slow, deliberate pacing, it has remained a classic because of its many layers and subtext. For the new Richet version, a dramatic cop vs. gang boss plot has been stamped in and all layers, subtext, and richness tossed out. However, the stamped in plot is pretty well put together, with its weakest most forgettable moment installed as a preface (haven't filmmakers realized that prefaces and flashbacks almost always signal a script problem?). The preface serves as bad character motivation for Ethan Hawke's Sergeant Roenick. Go get your popcorn after the opening previews and miss the `undercover blues' setup as to why Roenick turns into a pill-popping loser only to save the day by the end. That aside, the film works as an action romp. The shoot-outs are good, tension always fills the air, and there are even a few zombie references: the bad guys take multiple hits and just keep coming, they are all suited in such a way as to be stripped of individuality, and some of the gorier kills hearken back to the Romero classics. Byrne and Freeman are fun to watch, as both take their roles coolly, using smallness rather than the over the top bigness that Hawke uses (not that effectively). John Leguizamo and Ja Rule play throw away characters, and that's exactly what happens to them (and you won't be disappointed when it happens, believe me.) So, while it's no cop/horror/masterpiece... it is a fun Saturday night action flick."
POOR REMAKE OF A CULT CLASSIC
Tim Janson | Michigan | 08/23/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In one of the featurettes on the DVD, Star Ethan Hawke claims that this was the best script to an action film he had ever read. If this was the best that I would hate to see the worst. This remake of the John Carpenter Cult classic is ridiculous on so many levels. Suspension of disbelief? No...how about suspending rational thought and logic as the totally impossible set of circumstances that lead to the siege are among the most far-fetched ever put on film.
Lawrence Fishburne is a Detroit crime boss named Bishop who is being transported to jail along with the usual cast of two-dimensional action characters including Ja-rule As small-time crook Smiley (don't know why since he never smiles) and John Leguizamo as Beck, a crack head who is on your nerves so quickly that you pray he's killed soon.
Well on the way an accident and a fierce winter storm just happens to divert the bus to Precinct 13 which just happens to be closing down and thus just happens to have only a crew of three people and just happens to have all their communications shut down and is evidently in such a remote part of the city that citizens do not hear the thousands of rounds of gunfire and explosions taking place and call the cops. It may be Detroit, but even that's well beyond normal reason. Oh and somehow the crooks manage to interfere and knock out the cell phones as well. That's quite a trick!
Soon, some crooked cops led by Gabriel Byrne lead an attack on the precinct in order to kill Bishop before he can expose them at his trial. Ethan Hawke is Sgt. Jake Roenick, another two-dimensional burned-out cop feeling guilt over two of his partners getting killed in a shootout, eight months earlier. Along with him is Brian Dennehy who just happens to be retiring, and Drea de Matteo playing her usual smart-mouthed New Yorker...even though she's supposed to be in Detroit. Oh and Maria Bello plays a shrink working with Ethan Hawke who just HAPPENS to get stuck in the storm and has to stay at the precinct as weel. Roenick soon arms his prisoners to fight off the cops. Seemingly the cops are all former Delta Force members or Navy Seals because they're all armed to the teethe with assault rifles, night vision goggles, and flash grenades. Yet despite their overwhelming numbers and weaponry, the bad guys find themselves picked off one-by-one.
The sad thing is that this could have, and should have been a good film. But rather than handle the film with some semblance of subtlety, French director Jean-Francois Richet just tries to bludgeon watchers over the head at every moment. Extremely disappointing. "
Flabby action flick not up to the original
Gary Cross | Auckland New Zealand | 08/04/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"A bit of a mixed bag here - the characters are a bit more three dimensional than in the original, and for the first half hour or so you actually think this one could be an improvement on John Carpenter's cult classic. But when the assualt begins, things start to come apart. With the exception of the attack where Ethan Hawke decides to arm the convicts, all of the action sequences are dull and feel padded out (as if the director had an extra thirteen minutes to fill). I think it's because even with all their hi-tech equipment and body armour, the corrupt cops come across as a bunch of clowns. And there simply aren't enough of them (unlike the seemingly endless hordes of John Carpenter's film). At one stage, you even get the impression that the beseiged outnumber the attackers. It also seems just a wee bit implausable - maybe the bigger budget and better production values have simply served to show up the plot-holes of the premise. There are a couple of unexpected twists (with characters who you think will die staying alive and visca versa), but on the whole, this is a pretty tepid affair that lacks the necessary tension to keep things exciting."