News | Community | Business | Sports | Health | Columns | Fun & Games | Classifieds | Shopping | Subscribe | Police & Fire | Archive | Staff | Home
by Tim Riley - Jan 26th, 2005
“Precinct 13” Assaults the
Senses with Siege Mayhem
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13
Before achieving fame with “Halloween,” director John Carpenter made his mark with “Assault on Precinct 13” nearly three decades ago. That movie was a twist on Howard Hawks’ “Rio Bravo,” a John Wayne western that required the good guys to hold down a fort under siege.
The new version of “Assault on Precinct 13” is a variation on the familiar theme, now transported to a gritty outpost in an abandoned area of Detroit. The siege mentality remains firmly in place, as the twists and thrills emerge from the suspense of a full-scale onslaught of violent mayhem.
“Assault on Precinct 13” has all the expectations of a cheesy remake, and yet it works surprisingly well and delivers a suspenseful punch against all odds. There is a complexity to the misfit characters plunged into a makeshift alliance of convenience. Traditional heroes are missing in action, and the lines between the good guys and the villains are blurred almost beyond recognition. For an action thriller that revels in gunplay, there is a surprising amount of attention paid to developing dialogue between key characters, and much of what is spoken is so revealing that it pays to stay alert.
Precinct 13 is a rundown police station in a remote area of Detroit that is slated for immediate closure. The final night at the isolated joint comes on New Year’s Eve, where a skeleton crew is on hand. Sergeant Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke) is a relatively young case of burnout, recovering with the help of pain pills from the emotional and physical scars of having lost his partners in a drug bust gone wrong. Sexy, playful secretary Iris (Drea de Matteo) seems anxious to party. Veteran cop Jasper O’Shea (Brian Dennehy) wearily lives up to his nickname of “Old School.”
Elsewhere in the city, feared and despised crime lord Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) is arrested after a shootout with police, following a hit on an undercover agent inside a church. Cutting an imposing figure as the aloof, vicious racketeer and cop killer whose penetrating gaze causes most people to tremble, Fishburne makes Bishop an incredibly chilling bad guy. Once in custody, Bishop is marked for death by a band of corrupt cops who fear exposure for being on the crime lord’s payroll, or something to that effect.
While Bishop and a few other prisoners are being transported to a jail facility, a sudden huge snowstorm forces the prison bus to make an unscheduled stop at Precinct 13, where the rundown station’s lockup will have to serve as a temporary holding facility.
More unwanted visitors soon arrive on the scene when a SWAT team of corrupt cops, under the leadership of Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne), makes a demand for the immediate handover of Bishop, under the threat of a massive attack.
A sharp, dedicated cop, Roenick may be struggling with his inner demons, but he knows that the correct posture is to stand firm in resistance. It happens that attractive department shrink, Dr. Alex Sabian (Maria Bello) has stopped by the station for a little holiday counseling. Feeling responsible for the death of his colleagues, Roenick is unwilling to turn over Bishop to Duvall’s thugs, realizing that it would be an irresponsible act of police conduct.
The gathering herd outside the police station is heavily armed and suited up in bulletproof vests. Badly outnumbered, Roenick and his understaffed crew have a few revolvers and shotguns on hand, and the unenviable task of defending a building that is as porous as our border with Mexico. The only option open to Roenick for beefing up his forces is to conscript the prisoners into involuntary service. Bishop instinctively knows this is his only short-term chance for survival.
Among the other prisoners, the motorbouth Beck (John Leguizamo) is a philosophical junkie unfavorably disposed to joining forces with the law. Gang member Anna (Aisha Hinds) and small-time hustler Smiley (Ja Rule) are slightly more enthusiastic about the task at hand, though only too willing to find an opportunity for a quick exit. The alliance of convenience poses a great challenge to Roenick’s skill in forging a team effort.
That much of the action is predictable takes away little from the attendant thrills. To be sure, the test for Roenick is to keep his feuding partners in check, because only a cooperative endeavor has a chance to succeed. The menacing Bishop is very aware of keeping everybody’s energy focused on repelling the invaders. Part of the fun is figuring out where betrayal may become a factor.
“Assault on Precinct 13” is an adrenaline pumping adventure, where the action is crisp and focused. The contrasting characters put forth by Laurence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke vividly sustain our interest in the unfolding mayhem. Notable flaws abound in the plot, but they take nothing away from the excitement of this thriller.
*Dixon's only locally owned hometown paper: Delivered by US mail to over
6500 homes every week!*
*Located at 529 North Adams Street Suite A Dixon Ca. 707-678-8917. Content © 2000-2005 D.I.V.*
This page last updated on 08/02/2009 10:36:19 PM
You are visitor since 2/10/2005