Review: Assault on VA-33 2021 – Christopher Ray
Although the title invokes John Carpenter’s 1976 classic Assault on Precinct 13, one of the all-time great pulpy siege movies, this tale of a hostage-taking at a Veterans Administration hospital in Buffalo, NY, is all pulp, no greatness. In fact, the premise is not so much about an assault as an infiltration that one fortuitously skilful character, who just happens to be around at the time, accidentally foils when the bad guys threaten his wife and child’s safety.
In other words: Die Hard, but with a teensy budget that appears to have mostly been used on a visual effect that makes the many shots of bullets entering bodies look like puffs of red dust exploding like scarlet glitter bombs. It’s quite distracting in its shabbiness.
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Sean Patrick Flanery stars as Jason Hill, a version of Bruce Willis but with more hair and less comic timing. He’s a former soldier whose wife Jennifer (Gina Holden) works as a therapist treating PTSD patients. While waiting in the hospital building for her to finish treating a high-ranking general (Gerald Webb) while their daughter (Sarah Elizabeth Jensen) waits in the parking lot, Hill notices that some of the workers supposedly there to fix a broken elevator, as well as some unfamiliar security guards, are acting kind of hinky. That’s because they’re all bad guys working for Rabikov (Weston Cage Coppola, son of Nicolas Cage): a Russian terrorist who wants to exchange the general and the lives of the hostages he and his minions capture for his brother, who is being held by the US authorities.
Coppola’s year-old-Époisses-ripe performance, sporting a surprisingly convincing Russian accent, is one of the more amusing features of this film which is otherwise a fairly bog-standard opportunity to dish out regular doses of gunfire and fisticuffs.