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Movie Review

Assault on Precinct 13 (16)

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1 of 1 All action and no substance
All action and no substance

Directed by Jean-François Richet, starring Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Gabriel Byrne, Drea de Matteo, Maria Bello, Jeffrey 'Ja Rule' Atkins, John Leguizamo, Brian Dennehy and Aisha Hinds

Jake Roenick (Hawke) is charged with overseeing the wind-down of Detroit's old precinct 13 as it closes for good on New Year's Eve. Suffering from the memory of a botched undercover operation eight months before, Roenick is jaded and apathetic. As he and his companions; secretary Iris (de Matteo), psychologist Alex Sabian (Bello) and soon-to-be-retired cop Jasper O'Shea (Dennehy) ring in the new year, a police bus carrying crime overlord Marion Bishop (Fishburne) is being re-routed to the precinct because of the worsening snowstorm.

Roenick is none to pleased to have Bishop, or his fellow prisoners (Leguizamo, Atkins and Hinds), in his custody, particularly when unknown intruders gain access to the building and proceed to wreak havoc among the inhabitants. It soon becomes clear that cops, prisoners and civilians alike will have to join forces if they are to see off the impending threat and escape death.

Richet's 'Assault', like Carpenter's, is bloody from the outset, with a flashback to Roenick's earlier job that went wrong. With shaky camera movement at the height of the action to increase spontaneity and tension, Richet's movie attempts to be gritty and atmospheric, but fails to pull it off in the face of a weak plot.

You find out quite early who's laying siege to the precinct and though their reason for doing so is far more grounded than in the original, the mystery of the siege, so palpable in Carpenter's movie, is absent here. Similarly the leads of Hawke and Fishburne don't work as well as they did in Carpenter's film. Austin Stoker (cop Ethan Bishop) and Darwin Joston (criminal Napoleon Wilson), both unknown actors, had a much more powerful dynamic than Hawke and Fishburne's characters.

Hawke is ineffectual in his role anyway and Fishburne is little better, though he does have an air of danger about him.

With a bland script and equally unimpressive acting from all involved 'Assault on Precinct 13' take two pales in comparison to its predecessor.

Katie Moten

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