Review Date:
Director: Clark Johnson
Writer: David Ayer, David McKenna
Producers: Neal H. Moritz, Chris Lee, Dan Halsted
Colin Farrell as Jim Street
Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Hondo
Olivier Martinez as Alex Montel
An up and coming member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) team is forced to take on a menial job when one of his teammates messes up and he goes down with him. Working hard and looking pretty, the up-and-comer gets another shot at SWAT when an “old school” commander returns to the force and is asked to round up a new team for his unit. The chasing of a frog…ensues.
A great poster, a great tagline and a great theme song do not a great movie make. I scored this film a little lower than some of the other “generic summer action” flicks like 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS and BAD BOYS 2 because you pretty much knew exactly what to expect with those movies and that’s exactly what you got. With S.W.A.T., there was an opportunity to make something really cool, something unique, something that stood out from the summer pack of sequels and something that could energize throughout. Unfortunately, this film starts off on a half-decent foot, generates some interest in the lead character and nice chemistry between him and his immediate supervisor (one bad motherf*cker), but ultimately downshifts into a very generic action/chase movie with very little in terms of creativity, very little to amaze or overwhelm, and basically…a whole lotta swatting…for nothing. Most of this film is centered around the recruitment/training aspect of these guys, which to me, was actually the most involving part. You would think that this buildup would eventually lead to a mucho cool real-life adventure (unlike the phony-baloney plane test sequence which had zero tension whatsoever), but once the bad guy got loose and the chase began, I got bored fairly quickly and didn’t see much on the screen to pull me in. Colin Farrell’s character, specifically, is developed to a certain extent during the film’s first half, but essentially blends into his team during the second half, and ultimately goes mano-a-mano in one of the more basic fights that I’ve seen on-screen in quite some time (yes, it actually takes place in a train yard). The rest of the characters are also quite one-dimensional, which is surely why the casting folks hired actors best known for a certain “type” of character: LL Cool J returns as the cool-ass, wise-cracking buff dude with the six pack, Michelle Rodriguez is the tough-as-nails chick with the bad attitude, Olivier Martinez is the great-looking French guy and Sam Jackson plays the man who keeps everyone else, in check.

Toss a couple of standard white guys in there as collateral (one with mustache, one sans) and you’ve got yourself a full-blown SWAT team ready to kick ass and plug up any plot holes that might appear throughout. Consider how an entire city can’t seem to keep track of one goddamn car, despite helicopters flying overhead or how an international baddie can get into the States and sit in a jail cell for several days before anyone even picks up on who he is. Huh?!? The chief of the SWAT team also plays the ultimate of assholes, a man who seemingly wants nothing more out of life but to see his team fail, and fail miserably at that. Huh?!? The film also lacks in surprises with pretty much every single step telegraphed a mile away (including the supposed “rat” that is obvious to everyone early on) and too much time spent on the baddie and the build-up to his escape (we’ve seen the goddamn commercials and know what’s going to happen…get on with it already!) All that to say that this certainly isn’t a “bad” movie per se, but not a good one either…just something in between. It’s the kind of movie that you’ll likely forget all about three seconds after you walk out of the theater and appreciate more on video. In fact, looking back…I can’t think of a single moment that stood out for me, other than Martinez’s orange jumpsuit and his over-the-top “$100 milleeyon dollarsss!!” shout-out to all the “eses” in Hollywood. Props to both Farrell and Jackson though. If it wasn’t for them, I likely would not have been as entertained by the film’s first half either. They upped the ante with their characters, their interaction and their respective screen presence. The film also had a nice pace to it, as well as a loud soundtrack, but it was almost like someone else took over in the second half, and humdrum action ensued. PS: If you’re looking for a “Best Relationship for the Sake of Having a Relationship in a Movie” nomination, look no further than the pathetically underdeveloped cha-cha between Farrell and his babe here. Wow…why even include that shite?

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian