The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

For the first time in my life, I watched a fine original and a fine remake within the same 24 hour period.  The new film has better acting (Lawrence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke and Drea De Matteo) but loses a bit to the old in terms of sheer visceral intensity.  The sexual tension still cuts like a knife, the amorality of the combatants still works like gangbusters.  The addition of real motivation for the assault both helps and hurts--it certainly makes it more "believable," but that in itself is slightly problematic, since no one really believes something like this would happen.  So Gabriel Byrne really thinks that thousands of rounds of police-issue bullets could be fired without someone tumbling to the fact that this was a rogue police operation?  Ah, well.  The basic set-up, that crooked cops are willing to go to any extent to kill the gangster who can put them all away, including slaughtering innocent cops and civilians in a semi-deserted police station, is still chilling (pun intended, considering the snowstorm).  It is intense, violent, funny, sexy, suspenseful, and the best pure exploitation film to come out of Hollywood in a loooong time.  I'd give it a B+, only a hair less  interesting than the original.  Hell, even John Carpenter liked it!

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