An action movie can result in three things. The first--which should be the intention of all filmmakers--is to create a movie with mass appeal; one that is entertaining and that your girlfriend will enjoy too. The second is one that is entertaining, but has a real dumb story or it is critically flawed in many ways; perfect for a night out with the guys or if there is nothing better on cable TV. The third--which happens more often than not--is the creation of a movie that is so bad, that only people who crave senseless destruction will take the chance at recording it on their VCR when it plays late at night on TV.
â€˜Assault on Precinct 13â€™ is saddled with the second result. While the film does have potential with its decent action sequences and solid acting performances all around by the stellar performing cast, the story is simply way too flawed to be taken seriously. There are times in the story where even those who would dismiss mistakes as a result of making fiction would be left scratching their heads.
Ethan Hawke plays a cop named Jake Roenick who has hasnâ€™t had it too good in the last little while. Someone under his command is shot while performing an undercover drug bust and Roenick himself is shot in the leg while trying to pursue the criminal. Afterwards, heâ€™s stationed to a desk job as a captain of a run-down police station and developed quite the booze and painkiller addictions. While on duty for the stationâ€™s last day of operation on New Yearâ€™s Eve, he and his skeleton crew of a desk clerk (Drea de Matteo) and a retiring cop (Brian Dennehy), heâ€™s stuck to hold a couple of prisoners who were in the process of being transported to prison, but were forced off the road due to a heavy snowstorm.
Enter Lawrence Fishburne, who plays mob boss Nicholas Zambrano, one of the prisoners on the sidetracked bus. When the almost-deserted police station comes under siege from unknown gunmen, itâ€™s assumed that those on the outside raining bullets inside are Zambranoâ€™s crew. The twist is that the attack is coordinated by dirty police officers sure to see jail time if Zambrano ever gets to court. Roenick is forced to allow the prisoners to help him fight their way out of the situation.