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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Assault On Precinct 13 (2006/HD-DVD)

Assault On Precinct 13 (2005/HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C     Film: C-



It was bad enough that Hollywood has decided to remake and ruin nearly every great Horror film form 1960 to the early 1980s, but that the hack spree has extended to non-Horror genre films from Horror masters like John Carpenter is a real shame.  In the case of the original 1976 Assault On Precinct 13, it established Carpenter as auteur and launched his career.  The 2005 remake by Jean-Francois Richet tries to be hip, along with some strange reversals and rearrangements in James DeMonaco screenplay that smack of political correctness despite the mindless, tired use of expletives.  You can see how bad DeMonaco really is as a writer if you have suffered through the Francis Coppola misfire Jack and The Negotiator, which also thinks swearing is so… urban.


In the original, an army of revolutionaries with street roots and connections are on the attack, with nothing to loose and everything to gain.  They are from the working class at best, but no longer integrated in the system if they ever were, and are going for broke.  That adds edge to the entire film.  By comparison, the new attackers are not street guys of any kind, but corrupt police officers who are pretty much all white officers.  For one thing, African Americans are a large number of the revolutionaries in the original film, so the reversal is trying to negate latter-day misconceptions of race to begin with that makes the situation worse as denial always does.


The other problem besides the condescending reversal is the idiocy of have the cops shoot up a station within their own network.  Add that they are legally appointed and governmentally endorsed professionals in the application of violence, and you get cops shooting at other cops, even if it brings a “good and bad guy” of opposite skin colors together to fight the “bad cops” in what is an arrangement clearly aimed at negating any of the thrills or political edge of the original.  It also tries to ethnically cleanse the disturbing factor and guilt of the original film, like how the minority characters of the original may have never had a chance and that drove them to possibly in part to revolutionary activity.  The film is not so much a “get whitey” film as a “get stupid” one as everything has been “safely rebalanced” under the disguise of an “update” of some kind.


In its place, it gets two actor with great talent, intensity and risk taking pasts who also are commercially viable and seen as having enough street credibility to further obscure the reversals: Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne.  Hawke was just coming off of Training Day, a film much closer in kinship to the Carpenter original than this mess, while Fishburne had Event Horizon (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and The Matrix franchise.  They are good and give it their best, but they are fighting a loosing battle that has nothing to do with bad cops.  The film is ultimately insidious and at least we hope they got decent paychecks out of it all.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is a bit of a disappointment, with cinematographer Robert Gantz going overboard on with the overexposed images to the point where it becomes another clichéd-looking affair and puts even more distance between audience and the events as they unfold.  The sound here is in Dolby Digital 2.0 with fairly good Pro Logic surrounds, plus Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes that are much better at approximating the fullness of the original soundtrack.  Unfortunately, the mix is more about the battle scenes than character, though dialogue benefits from this.  Extras include three of the creators on an audio commentary trying to explain this wreck, deleted scenes that mattered little and five featurettes.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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