Based off of a one time T.V. show, two Los Angeles S.W.A.T. officers Jim Street and Brian Gamble were sent in to foil an extremely violent bank robbery. Although they thwarted the robbery, they shot a hostage in the process. Street was suspended from S.W.A.T. while Gamble was fired altogether. After 6 months, a veteran S.W.A.T. officer, Daniel Harrelson or "Hondo", is told to assemble a S.W.A.T. team for his division. He chooses other S.W.A.T. officers as well as 3 rookies. However, after they pass the S.W.A.T. training, they receive a message that a French crime boss, known as Alex Montell is trying to escape from prison. This will not be easy to prevent, especially after Montell promises $100 Million to his rescuers.Written by
Thrown into a desk job when his partner Gamble disobeys orders and shoots a hostage, Jim Street bides his time waited beside being demeaned on a daily basis. When the commissioner brings in old school SWAT leader hondo to put together a young outfit, Street is offered to chance to retrain with the select team and is soon back on duty. Meanwhile a man is pulled over by a black and white for a broken rear light, but is found to be a drug baron. SWAT are sent to escort the man to a secure prison but, as they take him into a holding centre he announces that whoever breaks him out of jail will get $100 million dollars. SWAT soon have much to content with and must ensure that Montel does not escape.
In a summer crammed with more sequels than ever, I was drawn to go and see SWAT simply because it offered some hope by not being a sequel to a past film (I didn't know at the time it was a TV conversion). Unfortunately, while not lifting it's formula from a predecessor, it essentially lifts itself from many other films and lacks anything that really makes it stand out. The central premise (the `$100 meellion dollar' bit) is interesting but only leads to a big long action scene that acts as the film's second act. Prior to this we are given the usual training stuff which, while not new, is still enjoyable.
It's weakness is that it is suffering from too much testosterone and therefore has to much of the men banging heads with each other and comparing size! The second half is enjoyable as it is just noisy action all the way, but it suffers from being too overblown. A scene where several different street gangs attack a police convoy is an example of this but happily the rest is not as bad as this and is actually quite good. My main complaint was that this second act felt like it should have been the main body of the film and that the training etc was just the introduction. However the second act seemed very short and I came away with the feeling that this was made with a sequel in mind from day one - just like MIB felt like it was made to get to MIIB!
That said it is still fun to watch, albeit unoriginal and clichéd fun. The overblown, all-destroying action probably doesn't do justice to the actual precise and tactical work that SWAT units do and it did make me wonder why someone didn't just take the `$100 meellion dollar' idea and put it in a normal cop film setting but hey-ho.
The cast is really good on paper but hardly make much of a splash in reality. Farrell continues to land on his feet with yet another starring role. His American accent hasn't gotten any better but he is still watchable with his tough guy charisma (would be nice to see him build on this rather than relying on it though). Jackson is slumming it a bit and doesn't really lift the film by his presence. He is no stranger to action movies but he doesn't manage to do much here other than add a face to the mix. Smith (LL Cool J, now starting to use his real name in credits) is OK but again doesn't do much special; I found it amusing that both Jackson and LL had actually made Deep Blue Sea more enjoyable by their performances but neither did it here. Rodriguez is not allowed to show she can act at any point, but she is easy on the eye and is good enough. Martinez's villain is OK but it was never clear where he was from despite the fact he had a French accent - have I missed something, was he a French drug lord? If anything his role marks a sad day for English actors everywhere, from now on it seems that, due to their actions over Iraq, the French will be providing the baddies in American action movies from now on!
Overall this is a reasonably enjoyable piece of noisy entertainment. If you expect anything unique or clever then you will be really disappointed. However if you are prepared for lots of running with guns, noise and macho posturing then this should be enough to satisfy you. For me it didn't stand out from the pack but it was still an OK way to spend a few hours.
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