I’ll try not to get too excited, but just for the record, Ethan Hawke is the man!
Turning in his second ‘action cops’ movie of the last few years (the first being the unequalled Training Day – but more on that later), Ethan Hawke stars as Jake Roenick, a cop thrust unwillingly into the middle of the action, as a group of thugs try to bust a prisoner, Marion Bishop (played by Laurence Fishburne), out of the cells.
Roenick ends up having to get the remaining few officers, civilians, and prisoners at the station to unite together and fight against the onslaught.
While Assault on Precinct 13 is nowhere near the same league as the likes of Training Day, it does continue the tradition of intelligent, well written, and action packed cop movies, following in the footsteps of such movies as Dark Blue, The Negotiator, The Recruit, and even S.W.A.T., to bring the viewer into the world of crime-fighting, and especially the dark side, where things can go horribly wrong.
Assault on Precinct 13 actually boasts a pretty good cast, with Hawke and Fishburne joined by the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Maria Bello, Drea de Matteo, Brian Dennehy and John Leguizamo. Oh, and Ja Rule is here too. But he sucks.
Actually, let me make this clear: every scene with Ja Rule is just so dumb I can’t even bear to think about it. The problem being, he is paired with John Leguizamo in every scene, and he somehow manages to make Leguizamo unwatchable. Only Ja Rule could have done something like that.
While the action is pretty good quality in Assault (with the initial onslaught scene becoming one of the best action sequences in the last year) the acting really makes its mark here, with Hawke, Fishburne, Byrne and Dennehy flexing their thespian muscles, so to speak, and proving why they are head and shoulders above the rest of the cast.
If only they had a reasonable script to work with.
While the acting is such high quality, it can only be a credit to the stars of this movie, because the script is absolutely shocking. Between Drea de Matteo’s character admitting her addiction to sex, to Ja Rule referring to himself in the 3rd person for most of the film, there isn’t much on offer here for people to get interested in.
Overall, Assault on Precinct 13 was a reasonable film – well acted, good action scenes, intelligent as far as the police side of things goes. Plus, Ethan Hawke showed us again why he is one of the best actors in Hollywood.
I give it a solid 6.5 out of 10 … but …
… (and you knew there was a ‘but’) …
… I do have a couple of points to make: firstly, if Assault was so good, then why did Dennehy go from this to the dismal Day of Destruction? Dennehy was one of the star players in this movie, and it should’ve done for him what Sin City has done for Mickey Rourke. As that kid says in that ad “its just something I’ll … never … understand”
Secondly, is it possible that this movie could have suffered from the effects of the success of movies like S.W.A.T. and The Recruit? In those films, aside from Colin Farrell being in both, the script is a little weak when it comes to a humorous aspect, same as Assault. I guess when Hollywood finds something it likes it has to stick to it.
As for the Training Day comparison, let me break it down like this. Assault on Precinct 13 has a great lead (Hawke) and a pretty good second (Fishburne), whereas Training Day has an Oscar-winning lead (Denzel Washington, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Alonzo Harris) and an Oscar nominated second (Hawke).
Assault deals with corruption and gangsters, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Training Day deals with corruption and gangsters, and takes itself deep into the heart of the ganglands of Los Angeles – its gritty, its real, and its disgusting.
Assault is a run-of-the-mill cop/action movie, whereas Training Day re-defined the genre. More or less, that is why Training Day is the definitive cop movie for me. It has everything, and is now the bar that other cop movies need to try to attain to.