Assault On Precinct 13


Directed by: Jean-Francois Richet
Written by:James DeMonaco
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Maria Bello,  Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Gabriel Byrne
Released: March 31, 2005
Grade: B+

It’s New Year’s Eve and the final night for the staff of police Precinct 13.  Funding cuts have forced the office to close.  For Officer Jack Roenick (Hawke), it marks the end of an uneventful eight month posting.  He was once a leading undercover detective but lost two of his valued comrades in a botched raid.  Jack subsequently lost his nerve and has hidden himself away in this run-down precinct office.

The action is set to begin.  A police bus is en route from the city to the jailhouse and has on board, amongst others, the city’s most wanted man – Marion Bishop (Fishburne).  In a wild snowstorm making driving almost impossible, the bus has been diverted to Precinct 13 where the prisoners will have to spend the night in their old jail cells.

Officer Jack Roenick and his small crew are not prepared for what is to follow.  Just after the stroke of midnight, truckloads of men turn up at their doorstep with a tonne of artillery.  They want Marion Bishop at any cost.  As Jack soon learns though, they don’t want to break him out.  The men outside are crooked cops – determined to make sure Marion never gets the chance to testify against them in court.

Jack can avoid any trouble by simply handing Marion over.  This though, will not be an option.  As bad a man as Marion Bishop is, Jack won’t see justice circumvented by having him released to the waiting assassins.  It’s going to be a shoot-out to see who’s the last left standing…

Assault On Precinct 13 is a standard good versus evil story.  Standard is the best adjective I can offer.  The characters are horribly one dimensional and the dialogue uttered is almost a tribute to you bad action film.  Don’t ask me why but I still found myself enjoying the story as it unfolded.  You know there’s at least one character who’s going to switch sides but you’re never quite sure who.  Also, a few key characters meet a demise which I didn’t expect.

I guarantee there’s something you’ll remember about this film – its violence.  Some of the scenes are very graphic and from the opening introduction, you’ll sense that director Jean-Francois Richet is prepared to show just about anything.  With the film set entirely at night, you might also notice that the tones are very dark.  There isn’t much colour and with the limited lighting, it must have been a challenge for the filmmakers to create clear visuals.

This isn’t a film for any DVD collection but with a couple of twists along the way, it’s worth a look just once.