SWAT Review

by Frankie Paiva (swpstke AT aol DOT com)
August 7th, 2003

S.W.A.T. * *

2003 - USA
Director: Clark Johnson
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Olivier Martinez, LL Cool J, and Michelle Rodriguez

Reviewed by Frankie Paiva

S.W.A.T. should be a lot of fun, but it isn't. In a continued summer of disappointments, this new action film provides little new or exciting for weary audiences this late into the summer season. By now we've seen it all: Mutants, robots, angels, and Hulks alike all fighting for supremacy. S.W.A.T. continues this action numbing effect. There's simply nothing to care about in the movie. You'll forget it before it's over.

Based on an ill-remembered 70s TV show, S.W.A.T. follows Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrison (Samuel L. Jackson), an old warhorse of the real police days, as he assembles a top notch new team for the most respected police division in Los Angeles. His team members include a tough single mother (Michelle Rodriguez), a handsome South Central cop (LL Cool J), and a cocky ex-S.W.A.T. officer with a questionable record (Colin Farrell). The team must prevent a wealthy European drug trafficker (Olivier Martinez) from escaping custody.

Despite its range of characters, the film is surprisingly devoid of life, especially in the second half. The most disappointing thing about S.W.A.T. is that it actually begins as a very promising film, showing the rigorous training that each team member undergoes on their path to the top. The training scenes carry an urgency and excitement that's missing throughout the rest of the film, which turns into a planes, trains, and automobiles chase of sorts. That director Clark Johnson creates more tension in scenes that we as an audience know are training drills for the team, rather than the actual execution of said training, just shows his ineptitude at staging exciting and explosive material.

Couple that with the fact that only LL Cool J and Olivier Martinez seem to be having fun, and you've got yourself a pretty dull film. The first half of the movie lets the audience get to know the team as people, while the second hour completely abandons any individuality among the members. The humor is also gone at the halfway mark. Exactly one funny thing happens for the last hour of the movie, and it's a gigantic relief.

The actors play their usual roles. Colin Farrell looks to be acting through a hangover, Samuel L. Jackson is the wise and cocky mentor, and Michelle Rodriguez is the punching and kicking bad girl. All three actors have proven themselves better than their usual character types in this material. Too bad they didn't get out in time.

The first hour of S.W.A.T. is thoroughly enjoyable, just leave in the middle so you won't be disappointed by the lame second hour that follows.

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