Watching the wheels come off of S.W.A.T. is quite a sight. The film starts off as an above-average action spectacular about the S.W.A.T. teams of Los Angeles. Before long, we are asked to take seriously one of the most bizarre plot “twists” of recent memory. It’s all nosedive from there.
The film opens with the obligatory hostage sequence, which is well done in this case. Jim Street (Farrell) and his partner, Gamble (Renner) are sent to diffuse a hostage situation. Gamble disobeys orders and gets them both in hot water with the captain. Gamble is fired, and Street is kicked off S.W.A.T., but demoted to working the gun cage. A part of him still burns to be part of S.W.A.T.
Enter “Hondo” Harrelson (Jackson), the man who has been assigned the duty of recruiting a new and improved S.W.A.T. team. He befriends Street in the gun cage, but also knows his past. Will Street get his chance to redeem himself on a new S.W.A.T. team? You’ve seen the trailer.
The training and redemption of Street alone would be enough for a movie, but we need a bad guy. This is where Alex Montel comes in. A wanted European drug lord, Montel is found on a routine traffic stop. Upon arrest, he claims that he will pay whoever gets him out of jail $100 million.
Say what? Are we really supposed to believe that a European drug lord is good for the money? He’s already murdered at least ten people by the time he arrives in the United States, and now the guy can be trusted? Cripes.
This plot development stomps on and kills what could have been a good action film. After Montel’s claim, it is nearly impossible to take the film seriously, because it is taking itself too seriously.
I am happy to report, however, that the action scenes are very well done. Those looking for nothing more than a check-your-brain-at-the-door action flick will be very pleased. We get S.W.A.T. training sessions, planes landing on bridges, and many foot chases throughout Los Angeles. Action fans will dig all of it.
On the performance end, Colin Farrell is good as the determined Street, and Samuel L. Jackson is winning as his now-standard authority figure. The supporting cast is also worthy of mention. Michelle Rodriguez stands out as Sanchez, the one and only woman on the team. Jeremy Renner is also slimy enough as the anti-S.W.A.T. ex-team member.
It always disappoints me when movies start out well, then hit the downward spiral. The plot may work for others, but I simply could not buy into trusting a drug lord, especially for money. Action junkies will eat this up, but those who insist upon having a realistic plot with their action may be disappointed. I know I was.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 117 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, and sexual references.
Theatrical Release: August 8, 2003
Directed by: Clark Johnson
Written by: David Ayer & David McKenna. Story by Ron Mita & Jim McClain. Based on the characters created by Robert Hamner.
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Josh Charles, Jeremy Renner