Assault on Precinct 13

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(2005) ★★

Sky Movies Crime & Thriller: Monday 19 October, 4.50pm

Sexy psychologist Maria Bello has got police sergeant Ethan Hawke’s number. Ever since an undercover drugs-bust went belly-up, Hawke has been hiding behind a desk. When a New Year’s Eve snowstorm diverts a prison bus to Detroit’s city-limits Precinct 13 station – which is due to close down at midnight – Hawke and his skeleton crew are ill-prepared for the pyrotechnics which follow.

Crime boss Laurence Fisburne is aboard the bus – and there are high-ranking cops on the take who want to exercise his right to remain silent. Undeniably slick ‘assassination politics’ update of John Carpenter’s grungy 1976 sitting-ducks siege classic. This one looks like it was shot on digital video.

Everything’s clear, clean and sharp, as if it was taking place inside a TV studio – with the snow machine turned up to eleven. Replacing the original’s weirdly anarchistic, multi-cultural Los Angeles street gangs with Gabriel Byrne’s army of corrupt cops makes the story much less strange. Trigger-happy cops on the rampage – that’s not scary, that’s kind of expected.

In launching his full-scale military-style assault with apparent immunity and bags of back-up, Byrne calls upon an impressive array of artillery and helicopters. You would imagine cops would have better things to do on New Year’s Eve – even bent ones. And the party could certainly have used some of Carpenter’s music – Graeme Revell’s score is no help at all. Screenwriter James DeMonaco went on to make The Purge (with Hawke, coincidentally) and its anarchic John Carpentery sequel.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 105min

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