Jan 232005
Authors: Ryan Skeels

Laurence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke star in the just released action remake of John Carpenter's screenplay "Assault on Precinct 13." Hawke takes on the alcoholic/pill-popping cop roll of Sergeant Jake Roenick and the person in charge of the Precinct 13 office for New Year's Eve. The job is supposed to be easy, hang around the office with the secretary, drink some whiskey and champagne, close the office at midnight and drive home early in the morning of the New Year. The plan goes astray however as a prison bus transporting four cons is forced to stop at the precinct for the night due to bad weather. The cons include a druggie, a couple random felons, and the cop-killing gangster Marion Bishop, played by Fishburne. This is when the story kicks into high gear.

As Roenick walks into the basement to check on the criminals in their cell, he spots two men in masks stalking through the cells and is able to kill one of them. After searching the body he finds evidence that the whole night could be ending very shortly for all of them unless drastic measures are quickly taken.

While this is not going to be the action movie of the year by a long shot, the pace never slows down and the story stays interesting throughout. The acting is great with no complaints here, especially for Hawke's role as the always calm and collective police officer. In the opening scene, for instance, Hawke has a shaved head and is acting as a doped up drug dealer in a sting operation gone wrong.

Fishburne will never escape the image of Morpheus from "The Matrix," but does successfully and believingly portray the very intelligent and powerful gangster in this film. Ja Rule was one of the first billed and seemed to be the advertisement highlight for the film, but doesn't have too big of a part, being one of the smalltime felons on the bus with Bishop.

"Assault on Precinct 13" is director Jean-Fran/ois Richet's American debut and will definitely put him on the chart. There are a lot of remakes of John Carpenter's movies and this one may be one of the best. If action movies where the bad guys are actually the good guys and the good guys are actually the bad guys then check out "Assault." Watch out for the twist ending too, it's somewhat of a doozie.

2.5 out of 4

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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