A/V Room









S.W.A.T. (12A)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Two commentaries, including director and cast; 8 deleted scenes; 'Anatomy of a Shootout' featurette; 'S.W.A.T., TV's original Super Cops' featurette; 'Making of S.W.A.T.' featurette; Blooper reel; Filmographies; Theatrical trailer.

YOU wouldn’t think so when watching it, but SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics, and it is the elite core of police officers the American cops turn to when the going gets a little too tough.

They are the best of the best, the SAS of the police world, if you will, and no mission is too tough, and no situation too difficult to control.

So who better to play the sergeant of one of these outfits, then, than Samuel L Jackson, a man who seems to effortlessly possess the characteristics to be both tough and cool, while at the same time barking orders to all and sundry with his trademark deep voice.

And who better to play a maverick cop given a second chance by Jackson’s wily veteran, than Colin Farrell, Hollywood’s own wild-child, whose roguish tendencies belie an uncanny ability to get the job done in efficient, and sometimes spectacular, fashion…

All of the components are in place to make SWAT a gloriously gung-ho actioner; yet while certainly entertaining, there is a feeling, throughout, that there is a far tougher movie struggling to get out - it is an 18 certificate trapped within a 12A.

What’s more, the special weapons and tactics in question are largely reduced to running battles with machine guns, while shooting anything that moves, which place the film in no-brainer territory, rather than providing anything of substance.

The format of the film follows the Top Gun route to glorifying an emergency service. Hence, we have the maverick warned early about his future conduct, the inevitable training sequence, as we gauge just how tough it is to become a SWAT member, and the hopelessly contrived finale, in which the team get to put their skills to the test against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Based upon the popular Seventies television series of the same name, SWAT is certainly energetic fare, but it struggles to rise above the routine, despite the talents of its cast.

Farrell continues to build on an impressive reputation as the renegade Jim Street, a dedicated police officer busted out of SWAT for refusing to ‘rat out’ his partner after a botched opening sequence, who seizes his second chance with relish.

Adopted by Jackson’s equally charismatic old-school sergeant, Hondo Harrelson, with a view to setting things right, the two quickly form a bond, which carries them through SWAT school, before their friendship is put to the test by Olivier Martinez’s evil crime kingpin, Alex Montel, who offers a $100 million reward to whoever can bust him out of jail.

The main meat of the movie comes in the form of Martinez’s cash offer, which courts the attention of Farrell’s disgraced former partner, and which provides the new SWAT recruits (including LL Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez) with a ridiculously difficult first mission, but by focusing a little too much on the training sequences, director, Clark Johnson, leaves himself too little time to do the premise justice.

Hence, what could have made for an intriguing cat-and-mouse affair, capable of sustaining a movie in itself, becomes an extended chase sequence, which feels like a bit of an after-thought.

Attempts at character-building also fail to rise above the predictable, so that almost every actor has difficulty rising above genre cliches, despite turning in engaging performances.

As a Friday night, popcorn movie, SWAT is enjoyable enough, and there is plenty of carnage for action junkies; it’s just that you can’t help ruing the numerous missed opportunities.

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