In this slick remake of John Carpenter's 1976 cult classic, cop Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke) is the officer seeing the New Year in at Detroit's soon-to-be-closed Precinct 13 station when crime lord Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) is dumped on his doorstep during a snowstorm. Overwrought Roenick is running just a skeleton staff... and his problems get worse when mobsters - sporting body armour and laser-sighted sniper's rifles - turn up to bust Bishop out. And they aren't fussy about taking prisoners.
One New Year resolution worth keeping is never let a prison bus full of crimmos park up at an isolated police station when the weather's just turned nasty.
Cop Jake Roenick (Hawke) is the officer seeing the New Year in at Detroit's soon-to-be-mothballed Precinct 13 when crime lord Marion Bishop (Fishburne) is dumped on his doorstep during a snowstorm.
It's not a good time - overwrought Roenick is running just a skeleton staff including vampish secretary Drea de Matteo, veteran cop Brian Dennehy and police psychologist Maria Bello.
His problems get worse when mobsters - sporting body armour and laser-sighted sniper's rifles - turn up to spring Bishop from his cell at the run-down station...and aren't fussy about taking prisoners.
Warped fans of the 1976 original will be disappointed that the classic scene - the little girl queing at an ice cream van getting blasted in the chest with a shotgun - is missing.
However, French director Jean-Francois Richet more than makes up for that with greater concentration on character and a neat build-up of tension as Roenick realises he'll have to recruit prisoners in the cells to shore up his beleaguered force.
We learn that he's wrestling with memories of a special operation that went fatally wrong while Bishop's keeping secrets that have a direct bearing on whether anyone's likely to make it out alive.
The action is fast and often (brutally) furious, only losing its focus and icy claustrophobia when firefights with the siege gang move out of the station and into the elements.
Thriller remakes are often justifiably regarded as pointless (Get Carter, Desperate Hours, The Manchurian Candidate...) but there's also a case to be made for the recycling of a decent idea with a contemporary spin (Ocean's Eleven...and, er, that's about it).
This does just that, departing from the original plotline with a neat twist early on that actually makes a great deal more sense that Carpenter's template.
Put your preconceptions on hold and enjoy.