Assault on Precinct 13
John Carpenter’s second feature. A terrific action thriller set in a desolate police precinct pitting Howard Hawks archetypes against a gangland siege.
A meat and potatoes plot, but the script teems with quotable lines and the cast delivers them with style.
And what a great cast. Austin Stoker as the stalwart police lieutenant risking his life because it’s his job. Darwin Joston as the laconic death-row prisoner determined to live by his own code. And Laurie Zimmer as the Hawksian woman, tough and cool under fire. I loved them all.
I’d always enjoyed Assault on Precinct 13, but I never appreciated its masterful execution. I blame the medium. Prior viewings were all on small screens, with TV speakers. Carpenter’s composition demands more. Wide-shots dominate, conveying a sense of isolation and empty space. With a proper sound system, the barrage of silenced shots perforating the precinct riveted. This viewing proved a revelation. Carpenter’s sophomore effort is a masterpiece.