At first I was skeptical about a remake of one of my favorite films by my favorite director, John Carpenter. Then, it dawned on me that the original was more or less a remake of Rio Bravo anyway, so I lightened up. The differences between this and the original are that the heroes actually know who they are fighting and why (dirty cops instead of gang members) and the two leads’ races are reversed. Ethan Hawke plays Jake Roenick, a cop addicted to pain killers, who oversees the closing of a police station on New Year’s Eve. Of course, all the phones have been cut off and the computers are in storage. A snowstorm re-routes a prison bus carrying notorious criminal Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) to Roenick’s precinct. A dirty cop (Gabriel Byrne) who was in cahoots with Bishop is determined to kill him and anyone else on the premises before Bishop can testify against him. After we know the set-up, the film settles down into a series of tightly executed action scenes. The best scenes come from Roenick and Bishop forming an uneasy alliance against the ruthless cops. A lot of people get popped in the head real juicy like and there’s a death by icicle scene stolen from Die Hard 2. The chase through the woods finale is a little out of step with the rest of the movie though. With John Leguizamo and Ja Rule as annoying cellmates, Maria Bella and Drea DeMatteo as eye candy, Kim Coates and Dorian Harewood as the ill fated prison bus guards and Brian Dennehy as the crusty old timer. There’s another remake of a Carpenter classic, The Fog in the works.