Universal Home Video
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lawrence Fishburne, Maria Bello, Brian Dennehy, Gabriel Byrne
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Virtually all Hollywood studios spend more time these days remaking classic movies – many of which really don’t need remakes – than thinking up new concepts. Here now we have a modern-day remake of John Carpenter’s cult classic "Assault On Precinct 13." With a new cast and a modified script, director Jean-Francois Richet felt he could surpass the original – and failed.
"Assault On Precinct 13" is not a bad movie per se, it just never reaches its full potential and remains in the shadow of the Carpenter original. It is a very generic story that Carpenter infused with a few new elements at the time, making it an impressive experience at the time. Today, the plot elements are worn out and without anything new added to the mix, the story plays alike routine action flick that is highly predictable – except for the plot holes and inconsistencies, that is. In order to enjoy you have to turn off your brain for 109 minutes. Seriously! The film is so riddled with plot holes, incoherent errors and irrationalities that thinking about them will completely destroy the movie, so don’t.
The film is surprisingly well cast, featuring Ethan Hawke in the lead and Lawrence Fishburne as the bad guy around who everything revolves. Maria Bello makes also a good showing, although her costume was a really poor choice. Brian Dennehy and Gabriel Byrne round out the package with great performances.
Universal Home Entertainment has released "Assault On Precinct 13" in its original <$PS,widescreen> version in a transfer <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. A <$PS,fullframe> version is sold separately I believe, for whoever watches those things. The images is clean and without defects and holds a good level of detail. Colors are strong and vibrant, recreating the film atmosphere without problems and rendering skin tones naturally at all times. Black levels are solid, giving the image good depth while also making sure shadows never break up and hold their detail. Some edge-enhancement is evident in the transfer at times, though it’s never getting too distracting. Compression is good without distracting artifacts.
The audio on the release comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track hat is active and dynamic. Surround usage is very aggressive and constantly in use. The frequency response of the track is very good with a deep bass extension that gives the power scenes plenty of oompf, while the high end of the spectrum is clean and clear throughout. Dynamic ranges is also good, though the film does not contain too many dynamic subtleties as music, dialogue and sound effects are in almost constant use for a thick layer of noise.
As bonus the DVD comes with a <$commentary,commentary track> featuring director Jean-Francois Richet, writer James DeMonaco and producer Jeffrey Silver. In all honesty however, I found the commentary superficial at best. I find it quite amazing how the filmmakers can create a <$commentary,commentary track> with a straight face when the material they look at is so riddled with holes and illogical events. Still for those interested how some of the scenes were put together, there is some valuable information in here.
The DVD contains a selection of deleted scenes that are also complemented by an optional <$commentary,commentary track> in which the director explains their context and why they were removed from the final cut of the film.
Next up is a series of featurettes on some of the movie’s elements. "Armed And Dangerous" takes a look at the weapons from the film. "Behind Precinct Walls" is a production featurette about the set design of the precinct building. The set of featurettes is rounded out by a look at the stunt work giving you a closer look how some of the explosive moments were created.
Then there is "The Assault Team," a featurette that discusses the characters in the movie and how they were shaped for the film.
"Assault On Precinct 13" is fun if you take it for what it is. A brainless save-the-fort siege-and-shootout movie. It is clearly a product of today’s school of filmmaking in that it is dead-set upon eye-candy instead of story and atmosphere, and it is gratuitously violent at times. The music can
"In The Crosshairs: Behind The Scenes Of Assault On Precinct 13" is another featurette looking at the production as a whole. Ethan Hawke’s opening comment "This is the best action script I’ve ever read" makes it clear from the get-go that this is nothing but a cheap promotional featurette trying to sell viewers on how cool the film is. While I beg to differ with many comments being made in this featurette, it certainly generates interest in the film with its fast editing, pounding music and explosive clips form the film.
While the extras are somewhat interesting I am somewhat surprised that not a word is being said about the fact that "Assault On Precinct 13" is a remake of John Carpenter’s film. No one ever draws any parallels to the original, constantly generating the illusion as if this film and its premise has been their own idea and creation, which it is definitely not! It is a derivative and it doesn’t live up to the original.
There are no surprises, no twists and no logic to speak of. However, you will have forgotten about the movie the moment it is over.