Assault on Precinct 13

Bomb Rating: 

Any time a film is remade, the reasonable filmgoer is compelled to ask one, simple question: Why? If we're deeper than a puddle we're also compelled to compare the remake to the original and figure out why changes were made and what idiot is responsible for them.

In this case, that idiot is French: director Jean-Francois Richet. The director of the original 1976 movie, John Carpenter, is not only still alive, he's still making movies (the most recent being "Ghosts of Mars" in 2001). So not only does Hollywood urinate on Carpenter's original, they let a French guy do it. No self-respecting citizen lets any Frenchman get his hands on anything quintessentially American. Next thing you know we'll be letting some guy named Claude carve Napoleon's face into Mount Rushmore.

In the original film, Precinct 13 is attacked by a street gang. In the update, the street gang has been changed into a group of ruthless cops. Precinct 13 is closing down for good when a prison bus stops there due to inclement weather. On that bus is Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), one of Detroit's biggest crime bosses. Inside Precinct 13 is washed up Sgt. Roenick (Ethan Hawke), his secretary Iris (Drea de Matteo), another officer, Jasper (Brian Dennehy), and Sgt. Roenick's psychiatrist, Dr. Alex Sabian (Maria Bello).

Just like the original film, once Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne) and the thugs on the outside start attacking, the cops on the inside must partner with the criminals to stop them. The criminals include Beck (John Leguizamo), Smiley (Ja Rule), and some woman whose name is nowhere to be found on the official Web site probably because she's black and female. Duvall and his cohorts can't let Bishop testify at trial because he'd implicate them and they can't let anybody in Precinct 13 live for the same reason.

It seems just slightly implausible that a group of crooked cops could shoot up an actual police precinct and kill everyone inside. I think somebody might notice, even if it is really cold outside and it's the middle of the night.

French boy tries hard to provide a sad back story for Roenick so it seems extra special when he overcomes his fears and organizes an effective resistance. Other characters aren't so lucky. There's so little depth to Laurence Fishburne's Bishop that one is tempted to peel him off the screen. Then there's Dr. Sabian, the typical flawed psychiatrist who has so many problems of her own that she's probably lucky to start her car without having a nervous breakdown. In movies, the psychiatrist is one step above clown on the professional respect ladder.

There's definitely an assault in this film. Whether it's on the screen or on the audience is up for debate.

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