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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.3%
Worth A Look: 14.94%
Pretty Bad: 14.94%
Total Crap: 13.79%

8 reviews, 39 user ratings

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Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
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by Scott Weinberg

"More like Assault on a Cult Classic!"
2 stars

One doesn't expect an unnecessary remake from a neophyte director to supplant or overshadow the cult-classic status of John Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" - but did the second version have to be so damn slow, sloppy and silly? With a seriously simplistic concept and a colorful enough ensemble to deliver something fun, this remake should have been a no-brainer. Instead it's just no-brain.

There's one really great sequence right in the middle of this new Assault on Precinct 13 adaptation. It's a gunfight sequence in which there's tension, excitement, and that fist-pumping sensation of "Yeah, get him! Woohoo!" The protagonists, all of whom are barricaded inside a building under siege, manage to fight off their attackers while defending each other in criminally cool fashion. It was during this scene that I remember thinking "OK, cool. Here's where we start rolling!"

Alas, no. The gunfight ends, and a huge handful of supporting characters are then killed in cursory and hamfisted fashion. So much for tension and excitement. Now all we have is a bunch of growling tough-guys who cannot, under any circumstances whatsoever, hit the targets they're aiming at. And keep in mind that every character in this movie is A) a cop, B) a career criminal, or C) both. And not one of 'em could kill you with less than, say, 139 bullets.

And this marks only the most obvious shortcoming of Assault on Precinct 13. Once all the cannon fodder characters have been dispatched, there's next to nothing to keep your eyes focused on. Sure, there's Larry Fishburne doing that mega-cool slow-burn bad-ass that he could probably do in his sleep. And of course there's Ethan Hawke as (giggle) a world-weary and burnt-out husk of a cop. Check out front and you'll see Gabriel Byrne twirling a virtual mustache as a black-hearted villain of all villains.

But there's just no rooting interest here. Like, at all. And without a few characters worth rooting FOR or AGAINST, what we're left with is soft-core porn with guns instead of genitalia. Consider a scene in which the evil dirty cops take joyous delight in sniping a junkie criminal to death. Who, exactly, should we be pulling for here? The rotten bastard cop behind the rifle or the cowardly drug addict who just deserted his allies? When all your characters are painted in such bleak and tiresome brush strokes, it's hard enough to even stay awake for the carnage, let alone give a wet slap about who's slaying whom.

Oh, and the final reel. Hoo boy. I'm certainly not going to start spraying spoilers all over the place, but let's just say that 93% of this movie takes place in the dead-center of inner-city sprawl. And then for some unknown reason (test-marketing reshoots, I'd bet) the last ten minutes take us into...a forest! Who knew that downtown Detroit had so many lush and moody forests scattered amidst the abandoned police precincts and dilapidated gas stations?

But who's really looking for even the smallest semblance of common sense? Very little in Hollywood sells like good ol' Name Recognition, which explains why a remake to Assault on Precinct 13 got green-lit in the first place. If you took solace in the fact that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead remakes turned out surprisingly solid, do yourself a favor and avoid the "new" Assault on Precinct 13. It just might get you re-convinced of the assertion that remakes, across the board, just stink to high heaven.

To be completely fair, I'd go on record as saying that young director Jean-François Richet may indeed have some solid behind-the-camera chops. His Assault is a grim, claustrophobic and snow-caked affair, which tells me that, given a (much) better screenplay, this guy could deliver something truly tight-knuckled and atmospheric. Let's just hope Jean-François doesn't have his sights set on directing the scarily inevitable Halloween remake.

Yeah, it's got a pretty solid cast. So what? So did "Mars Attacks!" Sorry to say it, but this remake is nothing but a shallow husk of its predecessor. It's a slick-looking but emotionally hollow bit of derivative gunplay. Go back and rent Carpenter's original version (itself just a re-imagining of "Rio Bravo") and tell me that movie is just violent for the bald-faced sake of violence. (Hint: It's not.)

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originally posted: 01/29/05 18:02:00
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good remake 4 stars
12/29/13 Monday Morning Lots of totally needless violence. Loved it! 4 stars
11/16/11 Golden J. Williams Jr. Good action, original was way better! 3 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* This movie makes you want more and more and more. Awesome plot and awesome action scenes 4 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting storyline. 4 stars
11/29/07 mb That was OK> 4 stars
10/21/07 fools♫gold very muchly watchable 3 stars
1/27/07 William Goss Surprisingly solid actioner and decent remake, even when logic slips up. 4 stars
11/05/06 Phil M. Aficionado Good cast but very formulaic; if violence is your thing.... 3 stars
10/01/06 Charles Tatum By the numbers action flick, I've seen worse 4 stars
3/09/06 Piz Lot's of action and decent twists. Unspecatular but watchable. 3 stars
2/03/06 Stefan Halka As far as remakes go, it was decent. Nothing special. 3 stars
1/18/06 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Even worse than the original 2 stars
7/21/05 TheViper Only if there is nothing to do should you watch this borefest. 1 stars
7/19/05 Indrid Cold Well done but completely unremarkable in every way. 3 stars
7/07/05 J This remake assault is succesfull. 5 stars
6/18/05 aldo Enjoyable film...not much story ..but good action 4 stars
6/12/05 Brian Mitchell A combination of the idiot plot with gratuitous violence and needless profanity. 1 stars
6/08/05 John everything a remake should not be - painting by the numbers - awful 1 stars
6/04/05 ELI Christ, it wasn't THAT BAD. enjoyable? Yup! Genius? Fuck no! 4 stars
6/01/05 Monday Morning The psychiatrist needed bigger tits. Not bad entertainment, though. 4 stars
5/15/05 y2mckay Fishburne looks bored, Leguizamo annoys, Drea and Maria look hot, director LOVES head shots 3 stars
5/04/05 What a waste Hideous. A 5 star film "remade" into a turd. 1 stars
4/05/05 Eugene Mortensen go see the original not this one 2 stars
3/26/05 Denise ok 3 stars
3/22/05 The Sorrow More like "Assualt on a cult-classic"... Yet again Hollywood has fucked up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 stars
1/30/05 bongeezer Not bad enough to be campy.. It's just bad 1 stars
1/30/05 Casey Tells okay 3 stars
1/30/05 Fred Pellerito Rent the original instead 2 stars
1/28/05 MorallySound I hate remakes, but this one has some balls. A completely different take on an old story. 5 stars
1/27/05 nick2k i havent seen the original, but i thought this was pretty decent. hardcore violence. =) 3 stars
1/27/05 KingNeutron gritty and somewhat realistic. 3 stars
1/26/05 Steve Michaud No match for the original, of course, but still entertaining in its own right 4 stars
1/24/05 ajay boring. the dialog was written for a 2-year-old. I was close to walking out. 2 stars
1/24/05 impartial judgement blows 1 stars
1/20/05 BlindPenguinChef Another unnessecary remake of a classic're better off gouging your eyes out 2 stars
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  19-Jan-2005 (R)
  DVD: 10-May-2005



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