Movie: Assault on Precinct 13

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Our Rating: 3.00

There's considerably more moxie than expected in this remake of John Carpenter's pre-Halloween siege story. Urban terrorists converge on an obsolete station house, determined to spring the master criminal (Laurence Fishburne) who's cooling his heels inside. Discerning if they want to emancipate him or execute him is but one of the sleuthing tasks the consistently engrossing plot lays out for us. Maybe it's the 1976 minting date of the source material, but the movie undercuts its effectiveness by dipping into a locker-room bonhomie one would prefer to dismiss as quaint. (Another suitable adjective? "Neanderthal.") The three female characters are, respectively, a slut, a priss and a criminal; plus, it all takes place on New Year's Eve, and you know what that means: skimpy party dresses! Oh, well. There's always a price to be paid with passable police drama, and this one holds as much genuine suspense as Hollywood can manage these days. As a final bonus, you get the most tolerable Ethan Hawke performance in, like, forever.

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