Reel Toronto: Assault on Precinct 13
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Reel Toronto: Assault on Precinct 13

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
The Taking of Pelham 123 remake got us thinking about pointless-but-passable remakes of 1970s flicks with numbers in the title, and that got us to thinking of 2005’s Assault on Precinct 13.
It’s a pretty straight-up actioner with a surprisingly decent cast (Ethan Hawke! Lawrence Fishburne!), and it represents yet another attempt to make Toronto look like Detroit. All things considered, it does a decent job.

The short summary is that super-duper-criminal-badass Lawrence Fishburne is arrested and held at this old, about-to-close police precinct on New Year’s Eve. His homies come to free him and chaos ensues.
The precinct interior is a set, of course. We had to peer through the CGI snowflakes to peg the exterior as 121 Industry Street. The building has a rather cool story, having once served as a facility for Ferranti-Packard, makers of electrical transformers. The city bought it a few years ago and turned into the Mount Dennis TTC garage. It was originally going to be part of a railyard for the Eglinton Subway.
We even found this informative mini-movie about all the important industries once located in Weston that left as the community evolved.
The flick starts with undercover dude Ethan Hawke and his partners chasing some drug fiends around an apartment complex. When they burst outside we can see they are at 260 Wellesley Street East
…and the camera pans up the tower.
Then we find Fishburne getting arrested outside a church. This is actually the landmark St. Andrews Church on King Street and Simcoe.
If you want to appreciate the art of cinematography you can compare the warm pictures of the chapel here to how it looks in Assault.
Hey—is that Gabriel Byrne? Yes! And is that Roy Thomson Hall over his shoulder? Yes, again! Metro Hall, in which this scene was shot, might give the Distillery District a run for its money as our most popular shooting location.
We had fun finding this one. The bus carrying Fishburne and other inmates to the precinct pulls out of this random garage-looking place and turns right. Luckily, we can identify that “EF” sign across the street as belonging to EF International Language Schools on Portland Street.
Despite being in Detroit, the precinct seems to be near a rather large forest, perfectly placed for a thrilling finale. These scenes were shot in Morningside Park.
And there you have it. A typical not-horrible, shot-in-Toronto flick!