Assault on Precinct 13 (remake)

Okay... when John Carpenter made the original, it wasn't considered a "horror" film. But after he became the director of HALLOWEEN, everybody jumped back to talk about the horror elements (the phantom gangsters were like Romero's zombies, etc.) when Carpenter himself maintained that he was restaging a classic Western. 

Nevertheless, it's a "horror" film now because it's John Carpenter and it's not ELVIS. So it shows up in all the horror reference books. And when a remake comes out, it's going to have the association, hence the post in Horrornews, even though I really DON'T consider it a horror movie. 

But it's a pretty good thriller anyway, thank goodness. 

Characters changed. Motivation changed. Nothing to top the little girl at the ice cream truck (no children at all in this one). Just one specific homage sequence to the original that I could point out. 

For the first ten minutes, I thought I was watching the sequel to NARC. Then comes the character building business--some of it interesting, some of it superficial. Situation built up--and pulled off quite nicely, including some surprises (brutal ones, at that). Top marks for casting. Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Maria Bello, Drea de Matteo, John Leguizamo, Brian Dennehy, Gabriel Byrne... okay, Ja Rule's character trait of referring to himself in the first person ("Smiley") is a bit much, but he's fine, too. 

I really doubt that anyone was dreading the original's reputation being trampled here--there was no sense of outrage that the remake was happening, and this is certainly one of the better remakes in the recent batch. True, it couldn't resist the urge to spread the action outside the crucial central location, but that's not a huge complaint. 

Come the end of the year, I'll probably only refer to this as a "peripheral" title in horror cinema, but I certainly recommend the movie regardless.

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