REVIEW: Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

This movie stars Morpheus as Morpheus being Morpheus

Other critics seem to dislike this film due in large part to some bizarre, puritan fealty to previous works. A fealty that I all too often share. Allow me to extrapolate:

I have, on more than one occasion, griped at the evils of both remakes and unnecessary sequels. In fact, it is safe to say that is a movie pet peeve of mine. Now, perhaps my not seeing the original movie before this has something to do with the ‘why’ of me not being in that camp this time around. And it may well be hypocritical of me to judge them when (as I have just said) I also jump down the throats of remakes/sequels.

Than again; No. No its not hypocritical. It is one thing to judge something great made a-new with a critical eye, it is another level of pedantic altogether to disregard that work based solely on puritan sentiment. The difference, in other words, is that while I share an inherent distaste for remakes/sequels, I–unlike these critics–was not blind to the merits of this remake in its own right as a movie unto itself. (Don’t worry, critics. Nobody is perfect. Except me. Especially me. Seriously: Me!)

Okay, first things I did not like.
The Con: Good guys repeatedly thumb back the hammer and clear their weapons’ chambers for no damn reason (as action flicks are wont to do despite all logic prevailing to the contrary). This kind of miffs (is that a word? Miffs?) the harsh, realistic, yet action movie-ish badassness the film tries to set with all its emphasis on tactical movement. Speaking of tactical movement: its the badguys in the tactical gear, moving tactically, with tactical weapons and being utterly tactically inept.
(Spoilers, obviously)

The bad guys are inept. Big shock, right? But its not so much the aim that I am talking about (they dispose of disposable characters with Borg-like efficiency *holds breath for the reference applause*). I mean the actual tactical movement of these ‘tactical teams’ the bad guys utilize. Now, I’m not going to quote a military background and then rail about how realism is not a pervasive element in today’s modern cinematic vision, but if you are going to try and make the audience ‘wow!’ at how cool the badguys are with all their nifty gear, than how about delivering on a little bit of competence along with the use of that gear, you know?

The good guys are out numbered, short on weaponry and surrounded, but at least they are in a fortified position. So it is totally believable that the attackers are going to lose people. But that is where the benefit of having a TRUCK LOAD of goons comes in handy. Like every villain before them, the baddies come at the heroes in ones or ‘tactical twoes’…which is RETARDED and besides thinning their own ranks only serves to give the defenders some much needed weaponry.

But hey, at least the badguys don’t miss very often and by the grace of all the gods on Olympus they refrain from monologuing too and just headshot the good guys. YES! Thank you! Way to set a henchman example! A+! (okay minus for the attacking one at a time thing).

The Pro:
Again, no monologuing badguys and reasonable hit-miss ratio (by Hollywood badguy standards anyway). Thats impressive!
The throwaway characters are actually fleshed to a degree that makes them ‘real’ and therefore memorable.
The acting of the cast is most excellent.
And finally, the best thing:
The female characters are actually competent. I, a dominant male, tend to find action films boring to the extreme when they come tethered to the trope of the helpless/idiot female protagonist tag-along. This movie has no (absolutely ZERO) weak female characters–conventional or other ways.
(Major Spoilers)
One would suppose the sexually inclined, fire-arm trained cop secretary would be the token fem badass of the group, but no. In fact there are two more of much more prominent note. The first (and less surprising than the latter) is the allegedly falsely imprisoned lady of many talents: she can effectively shoot a tommy gun and hotwire a car under stressful conditions. Great! The second is a cowardly and physically inept psychologist who stifles more than overcomes her (reasonable) fear of being murdered and stares the badguys defiantly in the face before he coldly executes her.
The fact that she died only adds to her strength as a character and the depth of this movie as a piece of good cinema–one does not expect the overt love-interest (indeed, only real love interest) to be killed midway through the film. It is not so much a shock value effect as it is an effective attempt at jarring realism (from an action movie!). Also, this is good from a feminist perspective because she is a strong person unto herself and not just a thing put there to be ‘saved’. She is not a token ‘tough chick’ yet can still die and/or be heroic just as surely as her male counterparts. Thats PROGRESS folks!

Conclusion: It is a wholesome movie, thoroughly appealing to the refined pallet looking for a solid action movie. Also, it has MORPHEUS!


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