Directed by Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008), Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 (2008)).
Written by James DeMonaco (Jack (1996), Staten Island (2009)).
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Gabriel Byrne, Maria Bello, Drea de Matteo, John Leguizamo, Brian Dennehy, Ja Rule and others.
The original had a „cold open” of sorts, that set-up the possibility of action in a movie that was more slow-paced, this time we open with a completely frantic scene, with our main character played by Ethan Hawke in an undercover operation, which doesn’t turn out so well. Some time has passed and we see him arriving at a police precinct on the New Year’s Eve, as it is about to close and relocate the personnel.
Then we see a shoot-out in a church, after which Laurence Fishburne is arrested. Soon he has to be transported and the two groups of people who will have to meet at some point are set-up. On the prison bus, there’s four inmates being transported, one of them being John Leguizamo going into his over-the-top neurotic mode. Some shit happens along the way so they have to stay in this half-abandoned police station.
When the new year comes, suddenly everyone’s new year resolution becomes to stay alive, because they get attacked by masked men and the people inside the precinct are left to try to hold them back. They even manage to make them more inhuman by having them be hidden behind thick ski-masks, due to the storm outside. But then they decide to add a decent, yet very unnecessary twist to who the attackers are. I liked the almost supernatural quality they possessed in the original better.
The movie does have some kinetic energy and interesting visuals, like a bunch of lasersights sniping through the windows of the precinct, a cool mexican stand-off, involving like 10 people and almost everyone who dies for some reason gets shot in the head.
Yeah, I know, since the original was in a way a loose remake of Rio Bravo, it is forgivable that they made another remake, but there’s really nothing that the movie brings, that validates its necessity to exist. It’s just pointless, it doesn’t change enough to make it fresh and really interesting and only updating it a bit doesn’t make much sense, because the original wasn’t all that dated.
The score was disappointingly bland, not even worth comparing to Carpenter’s iconic synth-drone theme.
The acting also isn’t that great, to be fair in Carpenter’s version the acting wasn’t the best part either, but it was also a low-budget film, with relative unknowns, who were acting western parts in a modern-day setting. Here we have amazing actors (not all of them, there’s Ja Rule, after all) with huge experience, but the acting is just as unconvincing.
Overall, might be enjoyable, especially if you haven’t seen the original, but even then I don’t think it’s really worth bothering. It’s conventional, some good actors pop up, at times entertaining, but ultimately a waste of time. Not recommended.