Monday, June 1, 2015

Film Review: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 (Review)
United States/1976
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"The concept is superb and the execution is decent."

Lieutenant Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) is assigned to a recently decommissioned precinct before its permanent closure, unaware of the violent assault he'll have to endure...

Assault on Precinct 13 takes place during a single Saturday afternoon. Throughout this day, Ethan Bishop settles into the precinct, infamous criminal Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston) and other prisoners are forced into said precinct due to sickness during a transport, and a father, Lawson, takes vengeance on a warlord responsible for his daughter's death. While Bishop welcomes the prison transport to his precinct for the time being, Lawson rushes into the precinct and leads a gang of vengeful gangsters to their door. These blood-thirsty gangsters, of course, then assault the precinct with everything they have. The film becomes more action-packed during the second half and leads to a strong ending.

Assault on Precinct 13 is a good film. Conceptually, I think it's fantastic. The idea of this precinct staff and these prisoners having to team up and defend the precinct is awesome — for lack of a more "professional" term. The actual narrative, on the other hand, feels like it's stretched out. It moves at a very slow pace, especially the first half. Although it does its job in setting up the characters and the plot, it ultimately feels uneventful. It feels like these scenes are unnecessarily dragged out to pad the already short runtime. It also lacks an effective hook. The concept is great, but that doesn't actually kick in until halfway through. Perhaps it's because I watched John Woo's The Killer just prior, though. Aside from the dreadful pacing, the film also has a few plot contrivances. Nothing too annoying, but worth noting.

The second half of the film really picks up the pace — the assault finally begins. You've got gangsters with assault rifles, pistols, and deadly melee weapons. Then, you've got the precinct group with few supplies — supplies that quickly dwindle. What you get are blazing shootouts and one grand explosion. There are some issues with this segment, too, such as the gangster that continuously jump through the same window their fellow gangsters just died in, but it's generally a great moment. As I said before, there's no need to nitpick something if you're entertained — and I was certainly entertained.

The cast is good. Austin Stoker and Darwin Joston lead the cast with likable performances. The dialogue in particular stood out; some of it seemed dated and stilted, but most of it was cool. The film looks great, too, it stands the test of time. As one would expect from John Carpeneter, the music is fantastic — the type of soundtrack you want to listen to without the film. John Carpeneter's direction is also great, he pulls great performances and knows how to set the mood. The dialogue is great, but the story feels like it's lacking. I love the concept, but this story feels bloated and slow — this is coming from someone who loves slow-burning films. It feels like a short film stretched to meet the "ideal" 90-minute runtime.

Overall, Assault on Precinct 13 is a good film. The concept is superb and the execution is decent. By no means is this a technically bad film. However, there are some severe pacing issues due to the uneventful first half. There are also some plot contrivances that stick out like a sore thumb. Yet, I was very entertained. I think the good outweighs the bad. I recommend it for fans of John Carpenter, especially for fans of his music.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

No comments:

Post a Comment