Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"Assault on Precinct 13"

Directed by Jean-Francois Richet.
Written by James DeMonaco.  Based on the 1976 screenplay by John Carpenter.
Starring Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Maria Bello and Gabriel Byrne.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  1/25/05


Mike "Yac" Iacovone and I have had a great run of seeing unbelievably bad films together since I moved back to DC from San Francisco.  Convinced that we had another Hard Vice on our hands, Yac and I knew we had to see "Assault on Precinct 13" together, because what's better than seeing fucking horseshit with a good friend?

After a solid intro, "Assault on Precinct 13" (based on the cult B-movie classic by John Carpenter) turns into a mindless action film.  We have a cop on the edge (Ethan Hawke, doing the producers that gave him the "Training Day" gig a favor by appearing in this film) that is recovering from the deaths of two teammates by going on extended drug and alcohol binges.  On New Year's Eve, this cop--named Roenick--is working his final night at Detroit's Thirteenth Precinct office when a storm hits and he is forced to watch over a famous criminal named Desolation...wait, Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), until morning.  Problem is, a bunch of dirty cops, led by Duvall (Gabriel Byrne), are outside of the precinct, waiting to storm the damned place, because they need Bishop for another reason altogether.  Bloodshed ensues.

Again, the first five minutes of the film are solid.  Everything after the opening credits are dogshit.

Where do I even begin?

Drea de Matteo looks plain fucking awful.  I looked over at Yac at one point, and he was visibly cringing every time de Matteo came onscreen.  What else has she been in?  Man, she looked awful.  It was the kind of awful that made you uncomfortable, like when you see someone that hasn't realized that they aren't hot anymore at age 79, but in their mind, there's never been a more beautiful woman to walk the earth.

Director Jean-Francois Richet doesn't know shit about action films.  Wow, the timing of some of these gun battles, the choreography of said battles, the hand-to-hand fight scenes...they all fucking suck.  SUCK!  The gun battles are not tense enough, and unGodly amounts of questionable things happen due to cop inefficiency.  Snipers are constantly whining that they don't have a shot in this film; aren't these guys trained in SWAT?  At one point, snipers have a target in their sights but then can't shoot through snow when characters are ducking for cover.  What, bullets can't go through snow?  And, the machine gun sound effects are canned; the only reason why that I can think of for doing this is to pay reverence to the original film, but still, that sound was bad.

All of the actors look like they are dialing it in.  From Hawke on down to the extras posing as dirty cops, everyone seems to be aware that the movie they are working in is really fucking bad.  I was just laughing whenever Byrne was onscreen; not only is he going through the motions, but he also looks peeved, like he isn't making much to be in this bad film.

Maybe the most illogical stretch in film history, when a character runs from a warehouse district to a wooded area thicker than Endor in under 15 seconds.  Yac and I tossed up our arms during this number, as if the editors didn't think we would notice a scene transitioning from a warehouse to a forest instantaneously.  And, it wasn't even a small forest; from getting the birds' eye view, it looked like the forest spanned quite a wide swath of real estate.

Zero intentionally-funny lines.  John Leguizamo and Ja Rule come close, but for the most part, this film is REALLY unfunny.  Wait...just having Ja Rule IN this film makes that kind of funny, right?

I'll admit, "Assault on Precinct 13" should have never been made, the second time at least.  The attempts to get anything out of this bullshit should have been dropped at the front door!

Rating:  Hard Vice


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09