S.W.A.T.
2 out of 5 stars
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The TV series only ran for 34 episodes in 1975-1976, and yet its memory is apparently strong enough to warrant a movie. Hmmm. Well, it wasn't a particularly original TV show (supercops save Los Angeles!), quickly eclipsed by the likes of the much more realistic Hill Street Blues a few years later. And it's not a particularly original movie either.

The story centres on Jim Street (Farrell), a member of L.A.'s elite Special Weapons And Tactics force who's been demoted after a clash with his partner (Renner). But the new team leader Hondo (Jackson) wants him back on duty along with musclehead cop Deke (Smith, aka LL Cool J), two hotheads (Charles and Van Holt) and, shock horror, a woman (Rodriguez) who's of course tougher than all the men put together. Then an international criminal they're escorting (Martinez) offers a $100 million reward to anyone who breaks him out of custody, and mercenaries come out of the woodwork.

Director-actor Johnson takes a strangely straightforward approach to a by-the-books action movie script. It's played out exactly like an episode of a 1970s cop show, but with Michael Bay-style chase scenes and explosions. In other words, it's both camp and mind-numbing at the same time ... and apparently unaware of how ludicrous it is. The cast is excellent, although they all seem on cruise control here with extremely undemanding roles. Johnson peppers the film with references to the TV show, including the hit theme song and cameos from Steve Forrest, who played Hondo, and Rod Perry, who played Deacon and here plays Deke's dad. But even these things are so subtle you'll miss them if you don't remember much about the series. And who does? I suspect few will remember this film in 25 years time. Or 25 months for that matter.

cert 12 themes, violence, innuendo 17.Sep.03

dir Clark Johnson
scr David Ayer, David McKenna
with Colin Farrell, Samuel L Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, Olivier Martinez, James Todd Smith, Josh Charles, Brian Van Holt, Jeremy Renner, Larry Poindexter, Reginald E Cathey, Page Kennedy, Domenick Lombardozzi
release US 8.Aug.03; UK 5.Dec.03
Columbia
03/US 1h57

All action: Rodriguez, Martinez, Farrell and Smith.

jackson farrell rodriguez
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Laurie T, Minneapolis: "I had to make up for Gigli - I needed some action and less talk. So I will talk less: We liked this movie! The plot is somewhat predictable - but the good guys win. And some cool action. I would recommend this one." 9.Aug.03

swat Dave Haviland, London: 2 out of 5 stars "Like all of the big action releases this year the best that can be said for S.W.A.T. is that itís an entertaining romp. Farrell and Jackson are charismatic and make the most of some sparky dialogue, but the supporting cast are largely underused, particularly the wonderfully punky Michelle Rodriguez as Chris. The action sequences are appropriately taut, with some entertaining sleight of hand, and the film rattles along at pace. However there always seems to be something missing, a problem that can be traced to the filmís TV origins. But in the movies we expect our heroes to grow and develop with something crucial at stake. Here our heroesí only goal is to keep a drug lord in prison. Itís this lack of depth that makes S.W.A.T. so forgettable. This is a cracking episode of The A-Team, but an average film." (30.Dec.03)

© 2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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