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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Assault on Precinct 13

1976 | United States | 91 min | More...
A still from Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
A-: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
on Sat Mar 27, 2021

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.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Sat Mar 27, 2021 via Blu-ray (2013 | Shout Factory)
    Watched on
    Sat Jan 25, 2014 via Netflix