Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Movie Review: "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976)

Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1976
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

A street gang unleashes a deadly assault on a police station that is in the process of closing for good. The minimal staff on hand must team up with some prisoners to fight for survival.

Assault on Precinct 13 1976 movie still
"It's an old story with me. I was born out of time." (Image Source)
"Assault on Precinct 13" (1976) is the second feature directed by John Carpenter, though his first movie "Dark Star" (1974) looks more like a student film as opposed to an actual studio flick, so we could technically say this is Carpenter's first movie with anything resembling a budget. Despite its title, this is not a movie about an assault on precinct 13. The story actually takes place at precinct 9, station 13. It is the last night that this almost abandoned police station will be operational. It has a scant staff with just one or two officers and a couple of secretaries on duty. A bus full of prisoners doing a prison transfer also arrives at the station for a pit stop when one of the inmates falls ill. These inmates and guards wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time as the station falls under attack from a local gang looking to go on a murdering spree to get revenge after some of their members were gunned down by cops early that week.
Assault on Precinct 13 1976 movie still John Carpenter
"Can't argue with a confident man." (Image Source)
Like many of John Carpenter's films, "Assault on Precinct 13" is simple in terms of its plot. The screenplay isn't concerned with trying to develop overly layered characters or creating a villain with a purpose beyond the desire to destroy and murder. The majority of the villains are almost entirely unseen. The narrative doesn't take any twists or turns. It's pretty much just a straightforward tale of survival. Where Carpenter shines is in creating the proper tone and atmosphere, two things he has been consistently successful at throughout his career. The exploitation action is also where this movie excels, and Carpenter does a great job producing some nail-bitingly tense, exciting moments throughout the feature as bullets fly freely, glass shatters, things blow up, and people die on the regular. Poor Kathy (Kim Richards) and her ice cream cone. It helps immensely that the hero of the film named Ethan Bishop and the antihero named Napoleon Wilson are played by charismatic two actors in Austin Stoker and Darwin Joston. These two gentlemen make the audience gravitate towards them and their delivery of Carpenter's frequently quippy dialogue despite that they are one-dimensional as characters.
Assault on Precinct 13 1976 movie
"Why would anybody want to shoot at a police station?" (Image Source)
Despite its simplicity, "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976) is a gritty and entertaining crime thriller worth seeing at least once in your life.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
RT Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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