SWAT Review

by Susan Granger (ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
August 18th, 2003

Susan Granger's review of "S.W.A.T" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
    Loosely adapted from the short-lived '70s TV series about the L.A.P.D.'s Special Weapons and Tactics Force, this action picture opens with a North Hollywood bank robbery sequence in which a hostage is wounded. That's blamed on S.W.A.T. partners Jim Street (Colin Farrell) and his hot-tempered partner Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner) who intentionally wounded a civilian to get a better shot at a perp. Street's told by his smug, paper-pushing Capt. (Larry Poindexter) that by fingering Gamble he can get a second chance. He does - and finds himself working for Dan "Hondo" Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson) and training with an elite, new S.W.A.T unit, along with Deke (James Todd Smith a.k.a. LL Cool J) and Chris Sanchez (Michelle Rodriguez) . Their mission is to deliver a rich killer (Olivier Martinez) to a federal penitentiary; the catch is the sinister Frenchman has offered $100 million to anyone who can free him. The cliché-filled plot eventually attempts to shift gears with totally predictable betrayals. The finale, however, is memorable, involving a small Learjet landing on a four-lane bridge in the middle of a city.
    What this police thriller has in its favor is gadgetry and realism. The S.W.A.T. team uses an impressive array of surveillance equipment and its professional training is as imaginative as it is rigorous. Written by David Ayer and David McKenna, based on a story by Ron Mita and Jim McClain, and directed by Clark Johnson, the film eventually disintegrates into mindless explosive mayhem, and the firepower sound effects boom so loud you feel like you're trapped in the midst of a war zone. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "S.W.A.T" is gritty, deafening, ferocious 5. To me, it's a macho, melodramatic misfire.

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