Thursday, December 31, 2015
The Remake Comparison Project - New Year's Siege
Cody and Priscilla ring in the new year with John Carpenter's 1976 film Assault on Precinct 13 and its 2005 remake.
Black Christmas. My Bloody Valentine. Mother's Day. Night of the Demons (set on Halloween.) Silent Night, Deadly Night. Priscilla and I like to have our Remake Comparison articles coincide with the appropriate dates whenever possible, and while we couldn't think of any Christmas-themed remakes to cover this year, Pri remembered that there was a New Year's Eve/New Year's Day option, the remake of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13. So to celebrate the new year, we decided to cover these action/thrillers... and while doing so, I was able to show Pri the original Precinct 13 for the first time ever.
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)
While students at the University of Southern California, future "master of horror" John Carpenter and future Alien co-writer/The Return of the Living Dead director Dan O'Bannon collaborated on what became Carpenter's feature directorial debut, the 1974 low budget sci-fi comedy Dark Star. Through another connection he made at USC, Carpenter soon had $100,000 with which to make a second feature.
Carpenter really wanted to make a Western, but he knew he didn't have the resources to pull one off properly on a $100,000 budget. Instead of trying to create an Old West setting, he decided the way to do it was to take the style and sensibilities of a Western and move them into a different time period, something that would become a bit of a motif in his filmography. In writing the script for his film, which would go under the working titles The Anderson Alamo and The Siege, Carpenter drew inspiration from the films of Howard Hawks and Sergio Leone, most notably Hawks's Rio Bravo, and mixed a modern day Western story with a concept inspired by George A. Romero's horror classic Night of the Living Dead - the idea of a group of characters being trapped in one location by a legion of attackers.
As he tends to do, Carpenter provided the musical score for the film himself, and the movie begins with a title sequence showcasing the main theme he created. A theme he has acknowledged as being inspired by the score of Dirty Harry and Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".
The Led Zeppelin influence is quite apparent, as the main part of the theme is a slowed down version of "Immigrant Song". As a huge fan of the band, I find this to be pretty cool.
The story begins in the Los Angeles ghetto of Anderson, California at 3:10am on a Saturday (the movie keeps us aware of the time throughout), when the LAPD ambushes six armed members of the notorious Street Thunder gang. It's a scenario that's over within seconds, ending with six dead gang members.
A radio news broadcast notifies the viewer that the gang problem in L.A. is out of control and the police are being driven "to deplorable extremes" in trying to deal with it. Worst of all, a shipment of automatic weapons has gone missing, and authorities fear that if the people who have them get organized "no one will stand a chance".
Way to give criminals ideas! I hope that's something that wouldn't happen in real life.
Those weapons are in the hands of Street Thunder, a gang that is now out to avenge its fallen members.
One man who will have to deal with Street Thunder's wrath is police officer Lieutenant Ethan Bishop, introduced as he leaves for work on his first day out as a Highway Patrolman. Unfortunately for him, Bishop isn't going to be doing any highway patrolling today - he has been assigned to take a supervisory role at a police precinct that is being closed down in Anderson. Bishop is disheartened to learn that he's going to be spending his night just sitting around in a building, not knowing that he's going to get the chance to be what he wants to be, a hero.
Bishop is played by Austin Stoker, who Carpenter calls "a very nice man" on his audio commentary, and I can verify that he is. I met Stoker at a Cinema Wasteland convention, where I had him sign my Assault on Precinct 13 DVD cover. Concerned that the cover would get messed up, since I was carrying it loose in my tote bag, Stoker dug through his personal items to give me a manila envelope to keep the cover in.
That sounds very sweet. He looks like a nice guy indeed.
Members of Street Thunder are patrolling the streets, on a mission of murder. As they drive along, one of the members aims a rifle out the window, putting random people in the crosshairs. For whatever reason, the target they choose is an ice cream man, who they proceed to stalk, following and circling his truck as it makes its way through a neighborhood, building up to the kill.
Someone who does expect something unusual from his day is Special Officer Starker (Charles Cyphers), who is overseeing a prisoner transfer from a jail in Los Cruces to a prison in Sonora. It's a job that the Los Cruces warden describes as "carrying a busload of hate". The criminals being transferred are Wells (Tony Burton), the ill Caudell (Peter Frankland), and murderer Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston), who has been sentenced to death.
As they prepare to move Wilson onto the bus, the warden knocks Wilson out of his chair. Wilson gets payback, using the chains he's shackled with to pull the warden off his feet.
One thing Carpenter has always done well is create antiheroes that audiences love to root for. Napoleon Wilson might not be quite on the level of Snake Plissken, but he is a captivating character.
And one that really wants a cigarette.
During the bus ride, Starker takes a seat next to Wilson to have a conversation with him and try to learn more about him. He doesn't get much out of the convicted killer except some flowery speech.
We never learn the details of Wilson's crime, only that he killed some men, but the other characters are fascinated by him.
Very mysterious character, even I want to know more about him.
Some of Wilson's more poetic lines are actually lifted from one of the Westerns Carpenter was inspired by, Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. As far as I know, though, Wilson's memorable line about days and women - "Days are like women; each one is so precious, and they always end up leaving you" - is all Carpenter.
That's sweet and sad at the same time. And not entirely true.
The bus ride comes to a premature end, six hours from Sonora, when it becomes clear that Caudell is too ill to continue riding. He has something worse than the "little cold" the warden said he had. They need to stop at the nearest police precinct, which happens to be in Anderson.
As the Street Thunder members continue to stalk the ice cream man, he gets a customer - a little girl named Kathy, played by Kim Richards, who starred in the Disney film Escape to Witch Mountain the previous year. Kathy is in Anderson with her father Lawson (Martin West) on a trip to ask her nanny to move out of this bad neighborhood and into their spare room now that her husband has passed away. Hungry, Kathy has decided to get an ice cream cone while her dad uses a pay phone to call for directions. He has gotten them lost in the ghetto.
I love the interactions between father and daughter. Those scenes are great. Makes you care about those characters.
Scared and distracted, the ice cream man gives Kathy the wrong type of ice cream. A mistake she doesn't notice until she has already walked away from the truck and Street Thunder has made their move against the ice cream man. Returning to get her order fixed, Kathy is shot and killed along with the ice cream man.
She got shot right in the ice cream!
This was a huge surprise to me. Since this was my first time watching the movie, I didn't know much about it, neither saw that coming at all.
Devastated at the sight of his daughter lying dead on the ground, Lawson covers Kathy with his jacket... and then, seeing the gang members driving away from the scene, abandons her corpse so he can chase them down, arming himself with the gun the ice cream man kept under his dashboard.
I like how they kept ice cream man alive long enough to tell Lawson about the gun.
Night falls as the chase leads Lawson further into Street Thunder territory, where a confrontation occurs in an open field between the gang members in the car and the bereaved father. As the others flee, Lawson kills the gangbanger who murdered his child. He then abandons his car so he can walk off to use a pay phone, but is unable to call for help before more Street Thunder members show up.
Lawson had to be in an extreme state of shock, because the decisions he made after seeing Kathy dead on the ground weren't the smartest. First he leaves his daughter's body just lying there, alone, then he ditches the car and the gun he used. How is he supposed to defend himself or even escape? Did he forget that there were other people in the car? Makes no sense, but it's actually accurate... there's no way to predict how someone would react after going through such traumatic events.
Running for his life, Lawson soon reaches the Anderson police precinct.
Bishop arrived at the precinct at 5:49pm to find that his only company for the night would be one police officer - Henry Brandon as Chaney - and two secretaries - Laurie Zimmer as Leigh and Nancy Loomis as Julie.
The title Assault on Precinct 13 isn't really accurate, since the location is actually said to be precinct 9, division 13. When Bishop arrives, the inscripton above the door makes the title even less accurate: there, carved in stone, it says this is "division 14". Assault on Precinct 13, which was made up by the distributor, does have a good sound to it, though.
I agree. Assault on Precinct 14 sounds kind of lame.
The Anderson precinct is being relocated, so almost everything has been moved out of the building. Bishop, Chaney, Leigh, and Julie are just supposed to wait around until the phone and electricity are cut off at 10 in the morning, and then that will be it for this place. It's a place that Bishop is familiar with. He grew up in Anderson, and when he was a child his father sent him to the precinct to get a talking to from a police officer for using foul language in the presence of his mother. While there, he carved another naughty word into the officer's desk.
This story that Bishop tells Leigh is something Alfred Hitchcock said happened in his childhood.
Having a child go to the police because they said a naughty word seems like a waste of time to me. Officers have more important things to do, I assume.
Expecting a dull, quiet night, Bishop is surprised when the prison transport bus comes rolling in just before 7pm. When Starker explains the situation to him, Bishop agrees to let him put the three prisoners in the holding cells while he attempts to call a doctor for Caudell. It's a call Starker is unable to make because the phone goes dead.
The phone line is cut within moments of Lawson entering the precinct. By the time he reaches the front desk, he's already slipping into a catatonic state that he will remain in for the rest of the film.
Lawson going catatonic from shock would seem to be a nod to the character Barbra in the original Night of the Living Dead, although he slips into it much quicker than she did.
Frustrated with the phone situation, Starker decides to take his prisoners and get out of there, making his exit after accusing Bishop of running the precinct "like chicken night in Turkey."
I don't know what that means, but it's quite a line.
What does it mean, I wonder.
The electricity goes out soon after, with Julie taking note that the streetlights are still glowing. The precinct is the only place that has lost power.
Chaney decides to try to get a call out to the new precinct with the radio in his cruiser, but he gets cut down by silenced gunfire as soon as he steps out the front door. Not knowing why "Chaney just fell down", Bishop goes outside to check on him. The silenced shots that miss him reveal that the precinct is under attack.
This realization is made too late for Starker to be notified. As his group goes out the back, most of them are cut down by the silenced gunfire. Starker, the bus driver, the two guards, and Caudell are dead within seconds.
I really like Charles Cyphers, especially as Sheriff Brackett in Carpenter's next film, Halloween. It would have been interesting to see how things might have gone if his character survived longer.
Another surprising moment for me, other than Kathy. I didn't think Starker would be killed off so soon.
Leigh and Sheriff Brackett were both named in homage to the same person, Rio Bravo screenwriter Leigh Brackett.
Bishop manages to get Wilson and Wells back into the precinct, and into their cells, alive. Wilson managed to get the keys to his shackles off of Starker's body, but since Bishop saved his life he hands them over. The start of a mutual respect that grows over the course of the following events.
After hitting the building with a barrage of gunfire -
This is one of my favorite moments, watching windows getting shattered and items in the precinct getting hit by these silent shots.
I really like the silent shots, it's a very nice touch and different than what we usually see in movies.
- the members of Street Thunder make their intentions clear by tossing a bowl of their blood on the precinct's front walk, along with a homemade banner with symbols written on it. This is referred to as a "Cholo", it marks everyone in the precinct for death and means Street Thunder doesn't care what losses they have to endure to wipe them out.
Scared witless, Julie suggests that they should just send Lawson outside as a sacrifice to the gang, "he's the one they want", but this is an idea that Bishop immediately shoots down. They're going to give Lawson all the help they can. Leigh supports this decision.
Julie is my least favorite character in the movie. Pretty much useless and heartless.
With dozens of gang members swarming outside the precinct and the characters inside having meager weapons at hand it is decided that Wells and Wilson should be let out of their cells to help with the situation, and also for their own safety. Gang members have infiltrated the holding room by the time Leigh has finished unlocking the cells. Leigh and Wilson fight them off together to escape into the main room.
Street Thunder members demonstrate the fact that they have no regard for their own lives when a steady stream of them tries to get in through the busted windows while Bishop, Leigh, Wilson, and Wells gun them down. They're not successful at getting inside, but they are successful in running down our heroes' ammo supply. And at killing Julie.
During a break in the action, Wilson asks a question he has been asking of each new person he meets. He asks for a cigarette. Leigh provides him with one.
There seems to be an attraction between Wilson and Leigh from the moment they first meet each other. It becomes more and more obvious as the movie goes on. Despite committing murders and getting the death sentence, Wilson hasn't lost his charm, not even to a woman who works with the police.
Or to Bishop. Their building bromance is captivating.
Wells comes up with a plan called "Save Ass", which consists of him slipping out a window and running "like a bastard", but the others talk him out of that. Leigh then revises the plan - instead of going out a window, someone could slip into the sewer through an access panel in the basement. She can't do it because she has been shot in her right arm, Bishop can't do it because it requires hotwiring an escape vehicle and he doesn't know how. It comes down to the criminals, but this idea scares Wells.
I don't really understand why Wells is afraid of taking the sewer route, which would seem to be safer than going out the window. He knows there are bad guys right outside the windows. It's not likely they'd be in the sewer.
Trying to avoid having to go through with this new version of "Save Ass", Wells challenges Wilson to a game of "Potatoes".
Assault on Precinct 13 is the only time I have ever seen or heard of anyone playing "Potatoes".
Same here. And I was completely lost during it. What a weird game.
Wells loses and heads into the sewer. Climbing out onto the street through a manhole, he manages to hotwire a car and drive away before Street Thunder members catch him. He speeds out to the same pay phone Lawson attempted to use earlier... but he forgot to check the backseat.
Another Carpenter villain would use the backseat trick in Halloween just two years later.
That plan having failed, the survivors within the precinct have to head into the basement for one last stand in the furnace room. The only way to reach that room is a narrow hallway, which will give them a fighting chance against the gang members who infiltrate the building. For a while, anyway.
It is pretty apparent that Carpenter had a small budget to work with when making Assault on Precinct 13, and maybe the script could have used some polishing, but despite its limitations and the occasional dodgy writing or lapses in logic, the film turned out to be a great piece of entertainment.
I love the simplicity of the movie. Even though it's not without flaws, I think the atmosphere and pace are so great that it makes it easy to ignore what isn't exactly "right" about it. This was my first time watching it, and it was a great experience.
The action sequences may not be up to modern standards, but for the time and budget they are quite thrilling and fun to watch.
I found the action sequences to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie. It isn't overdone, it's almost subtle in a way, with the silent shots. I think it's very effective.
I really like the characters in this film, and the actors who bring them to life. Of the main characters in the battle, Stoker's Bishop is a noble guy who lives up to his heroic ambitions; Zimmer's Leigh is a good, tough heroine; it's enjoyable to watch Burton's Wells freak out without going too far with his fear; and Joston's Wilson is awesome. I can sort of understand why Bishop and Leigh are drawn to him, because there is something very charismatic about him, even though he is often stone-faced. But I don't know the details of his crime, and they do.
Acting and characters are definitely high on my list of favorite aspects as well. All of the actors are absolutely perfect for their roles. Stoker and Joston are so in sync, it's really fun to watch. I love Zimmer as Leigh, she brings in just the right amount of class, and there's this coolness about her. Great character and great actress for the role. Works brilliantly.
Joston delivers a fantastic performance in this film. It's a shame that he didn't have a bigger career after this. He didn't even have much of a presence in the films Carpenter made after, only having a small role in The Fog.
That is unfortunate. I often wonder about actors like that, and how come they didn't go on to have bigger careers... when it isn't about their personal lives and troubles, I think it mostly comes down to luck. Not finding the right roles and movies.
Assault on Precinct 13 is one of Carpenter's earliest and cheapest movies, but it's also one of my favorites of his. I had heard a lot of hype about it before I was able to catch it on VHS in the late '90s, and it didn't disappoint when I finally did get to watch it and see why it was so well regarded. It's a movie I have continued to watch regularly throughout the years, and was glad to get the chance to introduce Priscilla to it. It's a cool way to spend 90 minutes.
I'm usually not that into Carpenter's movies. It's a very unpopular opinion of mine, but other than Halloween and Starman, Carpenter's movies just don't do it for me. I have issues with the pace, and I find them overrated, with a bunch of building up and not much pay off, and sometimes downright boring. So, when Cody kept suggesting Assault on Precinct 13 as a Remake Comparison option, I kept pushing it back, because I thought this movie would be another one I wouldn't care for. I was wrong. I found myself thoroughly entertained for the whole duration. I see nothing wrong with this one. Every little thing is in place and it all works out even better than it's supposed to. Glad I gave it a chance, and I'll certainly be watching it every now and then. It was a very nice surprise for me.
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (2005)
When the 21st century remake boom began, John Carpenter was one of the directors whose filmography was perused for material that could be re-done. A big fan of paychecks who isn't too reverential of his own work, and who is a maker of remakes (The Thing, Village of the Damned) himself, Carpenter has never seemed to care all that much whether or not someone tries to make a new version of something he did. Halloween and The Fog were remade, The Thing got a sort of reboot prequel, a remake of Escape from New York has been in development for years, it was announced that a company was going to make a movie based on the same source material that inspired They Live, and right now a Big Trouble in Little China remake is being scripted with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson attached to star in it.
The first Carpenter remake to reach theatre screens, beating The Fog by nine months, was Assault on Precinct 13. The English language debut of French director Jean-François Richet, the remake was written by James DeMonaco, at the time best known for co-writing the Francis Ford Coppola/Robin Williams dramedy Jack. He would go on to be the writer/director behind the Purge films.
Richet and DeMonaco's take on the concept begins with a drug bust gone bad. Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke), a five year veteran of undercover assignments for the Detroit police department, is working with fellow officers Tony and Coral to make a deal with a Serbian criminal when things take a disastrous turn. The Serbian's cohort recognizes Tony as a cop.
The choices Jake makes in the ensuing chaos - telling Tony to go down a hallway in one direction while he goes in another, telling Coral to go out the back door of an apartment building while he goes out the front - inadvertently causes the deaths of his partners, while Jake ends up with a gunshot wound to the right leg and the Serbians end up dead.
This opening sequence makes it clear right away that the remake is going to have a very different style and tone than its predecessor. There is a quick nod to the original when the Serbian calls Jake "Napoleon", though.
I love Ethan Hawke's acting in this opening scene. Very cool and inspired moment. Almost makes me wish we saw more of Jake's undercover days.
If the remake were following the original more closely, I suppose we should expect a Serbian gang to be carrying out the assault, but this is the last we see of any Serbians. This is here to provide a psychological back story for Jake rather than set up the action.
Which is another completely different detail. We get pretty much none of the main character's background in the original movie.
Eight months later, it's New Year's Eve and Jake makes his way through a blizzard to get to work. He is now assigned to a desk job at precinct 13, a place that will be officially closed down as of midnight.
I was glad to see that Jake kept the rottweiler that the Serbian owned and abused, giving it a better home.
So am I. Rottweilers usually scare me, but this one just needed a better owner.
There are only two others staying at precinct 13 through the night; Drea de Matteo as sex-obsessed, bad boy-loving secretary Iris Ferry, and Brian Dennehy as Sergeant Jasper O'Shea, who plans to retire in the new year. They expect to spend a quiet night celebrating the year change with each other, but their party is going to get crashed.
The first uninvited guest to show up is Jake's psychiatrist Doctor Alex Sabian (Maria Bello), who is keeping their weekly appointment despite the worsening storm outside and the fact that she's on her way to a New Year's Eve party. Sabian and Jake have a very antagonistic relationship. While she accuses him of playing up his leg injury, which is already healed whether he wants to admit it or not, hiding behind a desk job out of fear, and to being addicted to painkillers, he accuses her of wanting to go to bed with him.
While Jake is hanging out with Iris and Jasper and sparring with Sabian, the film introduces criminal kingpin Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), who is confronted at a church by police officers working under Captain Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne) of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Squad. After he has a moody conversation with a police officer in the church, during which he confesses to the murders of dozens of men - and adds another to the body count, stabbing the cop in the neck - Bishop escapes Duvall's more trigger happy men only to be apprehended by beat cops responding to the scene.
I get a not too subtle Morpheus vibe from this scene. It's kind of like déjà vu.
The name Marion Bishop is interesting. The last name Bishop comes from the lead police officer in the first movie, and Marion must be a nod to the concept's Rio Bravo roots. Marion was the birth name of Rio Bravo star John Wayne.
Since it's a holiday, there is no arraignment. Bishop is stuck behind bars for at least two days. To get to the lock-up where he'll be spending those two days, Bishop is loaded onto a transfer bus with Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins as counterfeiter Smiley, who tends to refer to himself in the third person; Aisha Hinds as Anna, who maintains her innocence; and John Leguizamo as thief Beck, who is fascinated by Bishop and wonders if he could get a job in his organization. Driving the bus is Dorian Harewood as Gil, standing guard is Kim Coates as Officer Rosen.
I wonder if male and female prisoners riding the same transfer bus is even legal.
As the bus drives along, it is tailed by a black SUV. Struggling to maintain control of the vehicle on the snow-covered streets, Gil is glad when the bus is diverted to precinct 13 so they can sit there and wait out the storm.
Jake, Jasper, and Iris all step out into the snow to greet the bus, Iris because she wants to see this Bishop guy she has heard so much about. Jake is very perturbed by this situation, so he hands over the responsibilities to Jasper.
Jake seems like a fickle guy. Minutes after telling Jasper he doesn't want to know anything about the prisoners, he has Gil give him the information on each one of them.
Once the criminals are sitting their cells, precinct 13 gets another guest. Sabian has returned, wearing her party dress, stranded after her car broke down two miles away. When time for the countdown to midnight comes, a bigger group than expected gathers around the TV and watches the ball drop in Times Square. Welcome to 2005.
Moments later, the titular assault begins with two men wearing ski masks and wielding silenced pistols entering through the back door and making their way toward Bishop's cell. They don't reach it. Instead, a shoot-out breaks out between these men and the cops. Rosen is killed, Gil is injured, and the assailants escape back outside.
The assault begins sooner in the running time here than it did in the original, which is the way to do it; get the action started earlier and then deliver more of it. The problem is, none of the action that follows here is as interesting to me as the sequences in the first movie, nor do I find the characters as enjoyable to watch.
I feel the same way, it seems to me like they had to start with the action already, before things got boring. There isn't much going on until the assault begins.
The people trapped in the precinct then realize that the phone lines have been cut, radio frequencies are being blocked, and the cell phone signals are jammed. They have no way of calling for help, and help isn't expected to respond to the gunshots because they're likely to be confused with New Year's Eve fireworks.
Jasper strongly suspects that the attackers who are surrounding the building to be working for Bishop, and that suspicion appears to be confirmed when a brick with BISHOP scratched on it is thrown through a window. Jasper presents the idea that the way to get out of this situation is to just hand over Bishop... but it's an idea that Jake rejects. Bishop needs to pay for his crimes.
That's a stance Jake is soon re-thinking.
There he goes being fickle again.
I can kind of understand wanting to hand Bishop over, though it's obviously not the right thing to do. But even then it makes more sense than considering handing over an innocent man to criminals, which is what happens in the original movie.
After a solo run outside to try to get help for the wounded Gil ends with Jake dispatching one of the attackers in a method straight out of Die Hard 2, he retreats back into the precinct... and starts considering throwing Bishop to the wolves when he sees that the dead man's indentification reveals him to be a police officer, not just one of Bishop's lackeys.
Bishop explains what's going on. He has been in business with every man working under Marcus Duvall, but Duvall has recently gotten greedy and started making moves against him. Bishop getting arrested was not part of the plan. If he goes to trial, he could expose all of the corrupt cops he's associated with. They need to execute him, and now everyone else in the precinct, to stop this from happening.
Bishop's words are confirmed to be true when we're shown that Duvall is indeed outside the precinct, orchestrating these events. It's a matter of mathematics to him: by killing the handful of people in the precinct, he saves the lives of the 33 men in his division. He can live with the deaths of those in the precinct more than he could live with a cellmate.
So here we have the remake's big twist, which is interesting, but in some ways less believable. Like so many modern films, Richet's Assault is trying to be "gritty", "realistic", and "down-to-earth", but this scenario comes off as more outlandish to me.
Red lazers from rifle scopes flood into the precinct -
Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI taught Priscilla and I what those red lights mean.
Wherever the red dot goes...
- so the blinds are pulled shut, but that doesn't stop the villains outside from opening fire on the precinct with silenced assault rifles. Flashbangs are also fired into the building.
The "silent bullets" sequence here isn't nearly as effective as it was in 1976.
It really isn't, and that sequence is one of my favorite things about the first movie.
When a couple of the riot gear-wearing bad guys attempt to make entry into the holding area through a window, Jake decides it's time to let the prisoners out of their cells so they can join the fight. He allows them to arm themselves with anything they find in the old evidence locker.
Jasper leaving his post to gripe at Jake about arming the prisoners leads the front of the building open for attackers to gain entry, nearly resulting in the death of Sabian, who is simply huddled in a corner, trying to distract herself with multiplication. Smiley and Beck save her life.
This is one of my favorite moments in the movie. A heavily armed villain all dressed up for battle gets taken down with a baseball bat and a samurai sword.
Similarly, Bishop comes to the rescue of Iris with a couple molotov cocktails.
When the next break in the action comes around, Jasper takes the opportunity to demand that the prisoners drop their weapons, causing a standoff as he and Jake argue over whether or not they should be trusted. Jasper loses the argument and, with everyone's beefs with each other "on pause", the bonding begins.
Smiley hits on Sabian, Beck and Jake discuss drugs, Iris and Bishop talk about sex and death.
More in-fighting erupts when Capra (Matt Craven), a police officer with a crush on Iris, shows up at the precinct. Jake avoids gunfire to help him into the building, but then the suspicion that Capra may have been sent in as a plant is brought up by Beck. Bishop defuses the situation.
The arguments are getting tiring at this point.
Around this part is where the remake starts to lose its appeal. From here on I can't bring myself to be as interested anymore.
The Capra issue is enough to inspire Beck and Smiley to make a break for it. They don't make it very far.
Test screening audiences were upset when Beck died, but rather than do reshoots where the character survives, as other filmmakers have done in similar situations, Richet chose to twist the knife a bit more by lingering on Beck's dead, bleeding head. That's a choice I can respect.
Capra's car being a few feet outside the front door is enough to inspire a plan for an escape attempt. Anna will run out and hotwire the car to drive off for help. Sabian volunteers to go with her. The women manage to get into the car and take off down the street... but they forgot to check the backseat. In the final moments of her life, Sabian displays some bravery.
This is a sad moment. I really thought Sabian would survive and have some sort of relationship with Jake.
With dawn approaching, the time for the people inside precinct 13 to make their last stand has arrived, but Jake is so distraught over the death of Sabian that it looks like he's not going to be much use. Until Bishop gives him a pep talk of sorts that inspires him to dump the pills he's addicted to and step up.
Bishop is a real philosopher of death. I think it's supposed to make him seem badass and cool, but I find it kind of silly every time he starts talking about his death knowledge.
I can't take Bishop seriously. I mean, his first scene in the church is great and badass, but it just doesn't hold up for some reason.
Duvall's men infiltrate the building with the use of a chopper, causing our heroes to have to escape the building through a sewer access panel in the basement.
There's a moment during the escape that comes off as ridiculous to me. There's a group of Duvall's men standing in a row, firing at Jake and Bishop, who are hidden behind objects. Even though Jake and Bishop are spraying bullets at these guys who are just standing out in the open, not one of them is hit.
Thanks to a traitor among the precinct 13 bunch, things get even more complicated and bloody. Our heroes find themselves face-to-face with Duvall once they're outside, a stand-off leads to gunfire and more lives lost, and it all builds up to a final confrontation in a snowy forest.
I don't know about other viewers, but I never noticed a forest being near the precinct in the exterior shots, so the fact that the characters suddenly find themselves in the midst of one has always been jarring to me.
I really don't like this choice. Changing the scenery is very off-putting and makes it feel like it's a different movie. And I definitely did not see any forest around the precinct at all.
Once matters are handled, the door is left open to a sequel as Jake and Bishop part ways. As Iris leads a wounded Jake out of the forest, we are assured that she is going to be keeping her New Year's resolution to quit smoking.
Assault on Precinct 2005 came out at a time when I was vehemently anti-remake. A stance that I have obviously lightened up on since. I was bothered that so many remakes were coming out back then, but I was convinced to go see Assault in the theatre by good word of mouth and the fact that it stars one of my favorite actors, Ethan Hawke. I came away feeling like it was a solid action thriller, and that it didn't tarnish the name in any way.
I saw Assault '05 back when it came out, but I had absolutely no idea it was a remake at all. It wasn't until a few years ago that I learned it is. I remember enjoying the movie back then. But I've never had the desire to rewatch it until doing so now for the Remake Comparison Project, though I liked it just fine. I actually liked it more the first time I watched it.
I like that Richet and DeMonaco just took the basic concept and built their own movie around it. They worked in elements and scenarios from the original, but their film and characters are very different. I'm glad they didn't just re-use the names and characters from Carpenter's films, as they certainly wouldn't have been able to recapture the magic of Napoleon Wilson. Especially since I don't find any of their characters to be anything special.
Assault '76 would be impossible to recreate. Different times, different atmosphere, and a few very special characters that would've probably come off as extremely silly if they were around for the remake.
I don't mean to say that the characters in this movie are bad, it's just that none of them really grab me, despite Richet having assembled a great cast that does fine with what they're given to work with. Hawke is a favorite of mine, but I would agree with the test screening audiences and say that the standout in this film is John Leguizamo as Beck, an enjoyably quirky presence.
I like the cast, and acting is pretty good. Just not as effective as we see in the original movie. I do like the interactions between Jake and Sabian, but that doesn't last too long, unfortunately. I like Drea de Matteo, but her character is just so sleazy. Iris was in serious need of some class and better clothes and makeup. Leigh has those aspects mastered. Beck is great.
I like Assault '05 just fine. I like a lot of the choices made and am perfectly content with this being the remake of Carpenter's classic. But there is something kind of lackluster about it that keeps me from wanting to revisit it very often or from getting too enthusiastic about it. It's a decent film, worth a watch, but I'm not drawn back to it. I will watch it occasionally, but I'd much rather watch Assault '76.
Like I said, this was only my second time watching it. It's not a bad movie - it has a lot going for it - but since it's a remake, and we're comparing the two movies, there's just no way I'd pick it over Assault on Precinct 13 1976. The original is better in every way, and its simplicity is very appreciated by me. The "twist" and all the other stuff going on in the remake are too much. The movie kind of loses its focus and becomes sidetracked. There's nothing remarkable about it, it's just an okay movie. One I don't feel the need to rewatch. If I have to pick between them, '76 will always be the winner.