Assault on Precinct 13 remains a classic film and definitely is one of John Carpenter’s best films. It’s tense, exciting and not afraid to take risks; I miss Carpenter and would love to see him do another low key action thriller like this again.
Plot: The lone inhabitants of an abandoned police station are under attack by the overwhelming numbers of a seemingly unstoppable street gang.
Review: This is a rare occasion were I saw the remake before the original and I have to say that I love both films for different reasons.
Where the remake had Laurence Fishburne essentially stealing show as Marion Bishop (I dare you to laugh at his name), in John Carpenter’s classic original, the likeable criminal is Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston). We don’t find out much about him, except that he really like cigarettes, but that makes him all the more interesting.
As with Carpenter’s best work, the music provides a lot of the atmosphere and mounts the tension up to 11. It has one of those sparse theme tunes which sticks in your head long after watching too.
Where the remake is a bit glossier and has a different take on the film, the seemingly simplistic story is one of the best things about it. There is a real feeling of desperation and the fact that the cast are so likeable is what really elevates it. Our lead is Ethan Bishop who is played by Austin Stoker; an incorruptible hero who will stop at nothing to protect the people in his police station.
We also get Carpenter regulars Charles Cypher and Nancy Loomis showing up; you may remember them from Halloween and more…
I love how we never really get a good look at the gang members, making them almost like faceless monsters. It’s almost like an earlier version of The Purge where the streets are a nightmare filled with psychopaths.
It’s not without its shocking moments either, especially when the little girl is killed which I didn’t see coming. The gangs just kill for the fun of it, choosing people at random.
The build up to the siege itself was expertly handled by Carpenter, although the first 30 minutes may be a little slow for modern tastes.
Overall, Assault on Precinct 13 remains a classic film and definitely is one of John Carpenter’s best films. It’s tense, exciting and not afraid to take risks; I miss Carpenter and would love to see him do another low key action thriller like this again.