Assault on Precinct 13
This remake of John Carpenter’s whip-smart 1976 original moves the titular Los Angeles cop house to Detroit and adds police corruption to the urban terror, but it pretty much keeps the genius Rio Bravo simplicity of the original. On the eve before an old precinct house closes, a skeleton crew of Sgt. Roenick (Ethan Hawke), retiring uniform Jasper (Brian Dennehy), and secretary Iris (Drea de Matteo) receive some unwanted guests when a New Year’s Eve snowstorm sidelines a prison transport at their precinct. Soon they’re surrounded by a crew of well-armed, ski-masked men who are coming for local crime boss Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne)—but are they Bishop’s crew springing him or dirty cops coming to silence him before he implicates them? Next thing you know Roenick is arming Iris, a cop shrink trapped in the storm (Maria Bello), Bishop, and the three other detainees to fend off successive attacks just to survive the night. A long windup slows this Assault en route to its enticingly violent core, but it lacks the original’s gruff commentary. That circumstances blur the lines between good and bad guys is Assault’s whole point, but Carpenter’s version managed to subversively form a ragtag community in the era of the Dirty Harry vigilante.