S.W.A.T.


Directed by: Clark Johnson
Written by:David Ayer, David MeKenna
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Josh Charles, Olivier Martinez
Released: November 27, 2003
Grade: C

I’m sure when the real members of S.W.A.T. saw this movie, they rolled around on the floor with laughter.  What we have here is a horribly unrealistic situation.  How can such smart professionals (considered the elite of the LAPD) get themselves in such dumb situations?  Then, then somehow find their intelligence and remedy the problems with miraculous recoveries.

Riddled with clichés, this a very unenjoyable film for any audience who takes pride a decent story.  We open with S.W.A.T. members Jim Street (Farrell) and partner Brian Gamble trying to resolve a hostage situation in a bank.  I would have thought banks had better security but Jim and Brian sneak unnoticed down an air duct and eliminate the robbers.  Unfortunately, one of the hostages is inadvertently shot and the two are removed from field duty by the “token” angry Chief of Police.  Has anyone seen a movie before where the Chief isn’t a prick?

Anyway, Brian’s a rebel and immediate quits the force.  Jim’s happy to see him go and works in the office’s ammunition department waiting for a chance to get back out there.  That chance comes when the police force cops some bad press (for a reason which isn’t explained) and the Chief calls in old friend Hondo Harrelson (Jackson) to assemble a hot shot team to reclaim the streets.  He assembles a five member crew with Jim receiving the final spot.

They train hard, are put to the test in some training runs, and coincidentally enough, they get the chance to display their talent for real.  An underworld drug dealer (Martinez) wanted in 12 countries has been arrested and is being held in the local jail.  He is to be transported to a federal prison but there lies a unique problem.  The dealer has gone on the news to offer $100m to anyone who can break him out and there’s a lot of fruit-loops in Los Angeles who are going to try.

All I can say is that Arnie has a lot of work ahead of him as Governor of California.  It seems that in this beautiful place, there are violent shootouts in the street every day with semi-automatic weapons.  People also carry around surface-to-air missiles to shoot helicopters from the sky.  George Bush needn’t worry about Iraq when this stuff is going on in his own backyard.  Could all this be any stupider?

The acting too leaves a lot to be desired.  The bad guys are so obvious and 10 minutes into the film I correctly predicted which good guys would magically switch sides.  There’s no method acting here – it’s straight out of a textbook.  Stars Samuel J. Jackson and Colin Farrell share some nice scenes early on (which gave me a glimmer of hope) but any character development becomes lost amid a barrage of bullets.

Reviewing a film like S.W.A.T. is just too easy.  The holes are so obvious.  The criticisms are just flowing off the keyboard.  I didn’t have to think in the theatre and I’m not having to think very hard now either.  Can’t be a good sign.