Twitter Plot Summary: It’s New Year’s Eve and a cop must rally police and prisoners together to protect themselves from a full scale assault on the station.
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Key Cast: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Gabriel Byrne, Maria Bello, Drea de Matteo, John Leguizamo, Ja Rule, Brian Dennehy, Currie Graham.
Five Point Summary:
1. Drea de Matteo: does she even need to be here?
2. Old cop is about to retire… let’s see if that trope holds true.
3. Man on fire! Woop!
5. Fire! FIRE!
Okay, so before I go any further with this, I haven’t seen the original film so my opinion of this remake has not been influenced by John Carpenter’s original. It’s another film that’s on my big list which I’m hoping to get around to this year, but we’ll see what happens. Real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of these things.
First of all, this version of Precinct 13 actually has some big names in the cast. Ethan Hawke! Laurence Fishburne! Gabriel Byrne! John Leguizamo! Er… Drea De Matteo. On all fronts the acting is strong and relatively believable. Except maybe Drea De Matteo, who plays the same character she always seems to play – slutty New Yorker. Fishburne gets to do his Morpheus thing by wearing sunglasses at night and shanking men in the neck during a church sermon. Oh wait, that last bit isn’t Morpheus is it? Moving on…
It’s New Year’s Eve and Precinct 13, the oldest police precinct in Chicago, is about to be closed down. It just so happens that Marion Bishop (Fishburne) cop killer and notorious criminal type (see the aforementioned church shanking as an example), is sent to the precinct before he’s transferred to the court where he will testify against the corrupt cops in the force. Those same corrupt cops then besiege the precinct and the disparate group inside then have to hold out until morning. What follows is a night of constant assault against the building and those trapped inside.
Sgt Roenick (Hawke) has stuck himself behind a desk following a bust that ended in the death of his team. Since then he’s been dealing with the guilt of not being able to save them, which rather conveniently is now echoed through the assault on his precinct. He feels a responsibility for everybody under his protection and this explains why he makes the choices he does as the assault escalates. Despite being on separate sides of the law, there’s a grudging respect between Roenick and Bishop which results in them putting their differences aside until they are in the clear.
As a modern action thriller the production values are good and it’s nicely shot. Whilst most of the film is set at night you can always see what’s going on, which a lot of cinematographers can learn a lesson from. There’s a few plot inconsistencies where you have to suspend your disbelief a little in order to accommodate them, and there are a few twists that leave you thinking “Eh? What?” Jus consider this when you watch it – where exactly is that forest in relation to the station? Best thing you can do is set your brain into neutral and just go along with the ride.
Even without seeing the original version you can still telegraph the entire plot from the start, which does count against it somewhat. Even so, it’s an entertaining ride all the same. It’s a simple plot but that stops it from getting bogged down in inconsistencies and convoluted plot threads. A worthy action thriller, if not an essential one to add to your collection.
Favourite scene: Flashbang in the pocket = bad.
Quote: “I want to live; as opposed to I don’t want to die.”
Silly Moment: John Leguizamo does a runner, because apparently he’s not that clever.