Review 11: Assault on Precinct 13 (remake) (3/5)

Assault on Precinct 13

Directed by Jean-François Richet

Starring Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Brian Dennehy, Drea de Matteo, Maria Bello, John Leguizamo, Aisha Hinds, Ja Rule, Gabriel Byrne

Released on January 19, 2005

Running time: 2h 0m

Rated R

Genre: Action, Thriller

A timeless classic thriller gets updated for the 21st century.

Instead of a massive group of street thugs that have gotten their hands on stolen guns, it’s a group of corrupt cops attempting to cover their tracks and eliminate loose ends. Instead of Ethan Bishop, a black Nice Cop who’s trying to embody honor, justice, taking his job seriously, and just being decent, we have Jake Roenick, a white Douche Cop who struggles with alcoholism and hits on his therapist. Instead of Napoleon Wilson, a petty crook turned implied killer, we have Marion Bishop, an infamous mob boss who is a known cop killer.

Interesting changes.

I went into this movie expecting it to suck, then squish, balls. Tiny, weak, wrinkly, impotent balls.

Our story begins eight months ago with a prologue. Ethan Hawke plays Jake Roenick…who is doing his darnedest to sound as annoying as he can. He and two other cops are undercover as they attempt to blow the cover of an infamous drug dealer. The plan does not go well; Jake’s coworkers, as well as the drug dealer, are killed.

After the title sequence, we cut to the present day on New Years Eve. The police station in Precinct 21 of Detroit is about to close for good. (Before you say anything: this is not a new error. The original AoP13 took place in Precinct 9, Division 13.) Only a skeleton crew has been left to watch over it: Jake, his secretary Iris Ferry (Drea de Matteo), Jake’s therapist Alex Sabian (Maria Bello), and retiring cop Jasper O’Shea (Brian Dennehy). Jake is an alcoholic and has an addiction to some sort of painkiller. He hits on Alex, and he and Iris, at their New Years Eve party, plan to copulate to their hearts’ content.

Crime lord Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) has been arrested. He is being transferred to a different prison with several other criminals: Beck (John Leguizamo), Anna (Aisha Hinds), and Smiley (Ja Rule). The transfer cannot be completed because of a snowstorm, so the convicts will be held at Precinct 21 until morning.

After two masked men break into the prison and are killed, the crew at the police station find themselves surrounded by unknown persons. The power goes out, phone lines are cut, and cell reception is jammed. A brick labeled “BISHOP” is thrown through the window, and another assailant is revealed to be a cop. Bishop reveals that they are a large army of corrupt cops, led by Captain Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne). Duvall used to work with Bishop on his crimes, and wants to kill Bishop before he can implicate Duvall and his cronies in court. Now that everyone in the station knows, they are all liabilities and must be eliminated.

Roenick releases and arms the convicts to help them attempt to survive until dawn. They attempt to repel multiple attacks by the corrupt cops, and prepare for the final confrontation with Duvall and his men.

I was as surprised as the next person to learn that this movie was, at the very least, half decent.

While Jake Roenick was the typical Douche Cop, but his character was flawed and actually more interesting.

While most of Marion Bishop’s character was all about him being DAAAAAARRRK and BROOOOOODING, he turned out to actually be kind of awesome in a fight.

While the budget was significantly higher than the original AoP13, it still had a much smaller budget than most action flicks, at roughly $20 million.

The death of Duvall was quite satisfying.

And, quite frankly, I cared for the budding romance between Jake and Alex. And it hurt when (!spoilers!) she died.

While undoubtedly flawed and not nearly as good as the original, it manages to hold up.

Final verdict: 3 out of 5.

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