SWAT Review

by Karina Montgomery (karina AT cinerina DOT com)
August 11th, 2003



At multiple points I was trying to determine what is this movie actually about? It starts out with an exciting bank robbery sequence and a heated conflict between two men who appear to be the leads, Colin Ferrell and Jeremy Renner (who was awesome in Dahmer). Then some time passes, and then Samuel L. Jackson steps in and suddenly becomes The Guy and Colin Ferrell is relegated to his golden flunky. Why is it Jackson's movie, and not shared with Ferrell? Try a whole song during the closing credits about Sammy L. Jackson!

Do I need to know what a movie based on a '70's TV show is about? I sure do, if I never watched the show. These characters clearly have, because they sing the theme song at the bar in the only scene not dominated by Dr. Pepper products. One even watches "S.W.A.T." on his day off. I don't need much of a story arc. I just like to know who to root for and why anyone matters. It's evident I am rooting for Ferrell, and of course by default we root for Jackson based on the sheer force of his charisma. At a 7:00 showing I wondered what the actual plot line was going to be at 7:30 and at 8:20. Considering I was out of there by nine, and Act 3 started around 8:30, that's not a good sign. And there was just enough character sketch done for each person so that they all had motivation for what they were doing and that was enough to serve the story. This ain't Boheme.

This is not to imply that I was bored in anyway; au contraire mon frere I was definitely engaged by all the running around and "day in the life" macho incisiveness of the Special Weapons and Tactics (which means sneaking, earpiece radios, and lights on their guns, apparently) unit. The action sequences, set in L.A., are amusingly shot mixing "home video" footage of the events (as would surely have been captured by a dozen tourists) and the movie's footage, which lent a sense of verite to the proceedings. Or was I just dazzled by the MTV quick cuttingness of it all? Who cares? Ultimately, I loved looking at hot Frenchy Olivier Martinez (Unfaithful) and wondering where he all fit in to this story, even after it was made more evident (see above reference to Act 3).

Kudos to new smarm on the block Larry Poindexter as Capt. Fuller; giving William Atherton a run for his slimy bastard money. I actually regretted his not getting to do more damage; his role was coasting on its own archetype.

A late-in-the-film train tracks fight scene reminded me uncomfortably of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, but for all its narrative flaws, S.W.A.T. is a perfectly serviceable action movie, very loud and exciting, with good sequences and decent dialogue. There could be more, but in a summer full of less, S.W.A.T.'s an OK bargain so far. I give it Matinee for execution, veracity, and surprises.
These reviews (c) 2003 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks. You can check out previous reviews at:
http://www.cinerina.com and http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com - the Online Film Critics Society http://www.hsbr.net/reviews/karina/listing.hsbr - Hollywood Stock Exchange Brokerage Resource

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