Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5
USA, 1976. CKK. Screenplay by John Carpenter. Cinematography by Douglas Knapp. Produced by J. Stein Kaplan. Music by John Carpenter. Production Design by Tommy Lee Wallace. Costume Design by Nancy Kyes. Film Editing by John Carpenter.
Early masterpiece by John Carpenter, and still one of his finest films. As the Los Angeles police prepare to shut an old precinct down in South Central L.A. and move its staff to a new building, trouble arrives from all directions. A gang member has shot a little girl (in a brilliant, totally shocking scene), and her father, after getting his revenge, has made his way to the precinct, trailing behind him the remaining members of the gang who are out to get revenge on the police for a raid that occurred a few nights prior.
At the same time, a police transport vehicle has stopped at the building, unaware of its pending decommissioning, in order to let a seriously ill convict get medical attention. Keeping bad guys out of this porous, vulnerable edifice when the good guys inside it are barely a tight crew creates incredible tension in this marvelous, satisfying feature. Beautifully shot and directed with polish and power, the plotting is efficient and the action exciting.