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S.W.A.T. (PG-13)
Columbia Pictures
Official Site
Director: Clark Johnson
Producers: Dan Halsted, Chris Lee, Neal H. Moritz
Written by: David Ayer, David McKenna; story by Ron Mita & Jim McClain
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Olivier Martinez, Jeremy Renner, Josh Charles, Brian Van Holt, Larry Poindexter

Rating: out of 5


Finally, a cop movie that isn’t the usual brainless blow-things-up fare. S.W.A.T. would actually be considered calm compared to other movies in its genre. It takes its time developing the story and characters before diving headfirst into action. But not to worry, there are still car chases, explosions, and ruthless bad guys, only more in a tactful and believable need-based manner.

Consider the main antagonist Alex Montel (Martinez), whom we first see arriving at the Los Angeles airport, brandishing a French passport. There are no neon signs announcing the arrival of the bad guy, yet the way he sweet talks security into allowing him to keep an ornate pocketknife subtly lets us know we’d better keep an eye on this one. After that, the movie forgets about Alex for a while, building an aura of suspense and mystery around him, and bringing him back again at just the right moment.

So meanwhile on the good-guy side of things, we begin with a bank robbery gone out of hand, requiring the aid of the Los Angeles S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons And Tactics) Team. S.W.A.T. partners Jim Street (Farrell) and Brian Gamble (Renner) manage to save the day, but not before the hot-headed Gamble breaks a few rules in the process. Gamble ends up getting kicked off the police force altogether while Street is stripped of his S.W.A.T. status and relegated to the gun-cleaning cage with minimal chances of returning to his former position.

Six months later, enter Lieutenant “Hondo” (Jackson), a veteran S.W.A.T. member, is brought back to LA to boost the waning image of the LAPD. He gets to choose a special five-member team to help him in his objective. After the customary recruiting process, the five are “Deke” (LL Cool J), tough single mom Chris Sanchez (Rodriguez), Boxer (Van Holt), McCabe (Charles) and, surprise surprise, Jim Street.

Instead of heading straight for the streets, there are several training sequences where we see the team hone their skills and develop cohesiveness. Even after that, the team goes around the city solving minor catastrophes before the big one involving Alex Montel.

It seems that our French friend has found himself in jail, not for any crimes per se (he’s too smooth to be found guilty), but on account of his questionable identification. On the priceless opportunity of being covered by a television broadcast, wealthy Alex offers $100 million to whomever can free him. This invites the participation of a plethora of would-be liberators whom Hondo’s special S.W.A.T. team must now face.

S.W.A.T. is Colin Farrell’s movie. With his cocky yet easygoing manner, this role is sure to propel him into bona fide leading man material. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a lengthy work-out sequence featuring weight-lifting and running on the beach—with a dog no less—to win over the female demographic.

The movie contains quite a few one-liners and comebacks, adding some comedy to the proceedings. For the most part the cheese factor is kept to a minimum, and some of them are genuinely funny. However, the real spotlight is still the unhurried action and character-driven story.

—Kelly Hsu

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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