Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson,
Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Brian Van Holt, Jeremy Renner,
Josh Charles, Olivier Martinez
Director: Clark Johnson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: December 30, 2003
know what they say…you’re either SWAT or you’re not.”
Every once in a while, a movie will arrive on the scene
that is not exactly a bad one, but it just seems as a result of bad timing. Such
is the case of S.W.A.T., a technically
well done reinvention of the 70s television series whose hit theme song was
actually bigger than the show. It comes to us from the same producing team of
action favorites XXX and The
Fast and the Furious.
It goes without saying that the movie has more than a lot
going for it. Along side the action, S.W.A.T.
also has a topflight cast led by no less than Samuel L. Jackson and Colin
Farrell. Another impressive element is that it also happens to be the feature
film debut of director Clark Johnson, a veteran of television shows. However,
the arrival of S.W.A.T. in the wake of
high energy fare such as Bad Boys II
is pretty much a flaw in itself. The movie has action and wit to spare, but for
some reason I simply wasn’t engulfed like I usually am, and found this one to
be a bit too routine.
The heart of the movie involves the recruiting and training
of several fresh faced rookies who are being considered for a new SWAT team.
Heading up the training is veteran Lt. Hondo (Jackson), who’s been given top
authority despite reservations on behalf of the uptight captain (goodness,
haven’t we seen this sort of character much too often?)
Of his top listed recruits, the one Hondo has his eye on
the most is Jim Street (Farrell), who was once a SWAT team member, but was
demoted following a botched rescue assignment involving Street’s partner, who
ended up leaving the force as a result. Now working in no less than the police
unit gun cage, Street is desperate for a way out, and eagerly accepts Hondo’s
offer. Other new trainees include street cop Deke (LL Cool J), Boxer (Brian Van
Holt), a wisecracker whose sister just broke up with Street; TJ (Josh Charles),
a much cocky crack shot; and Chris (Michelle Rodriguez), who’s never been
given a chance on the force because she happens to be a woman.
After going through a number of very elaborate training
ops, which offer the movie’s best moments, Hondo and his team are called in
for a high profile assignment. It involves the guarding and transport of Alex
Montel (Olivier Martinez), an international drug lord and gunrunner who’s
wanted in over a dozen countries for multiple crimes. The situation gets even
more hasty when Alex announces to the media that he will offer $100 million to
anyone who will bust him out. Needless to say, all thugs and baddies come out of
the woodworks, and the new SWAT team faces its first and greatest challenge.
does have elements in it that work very well, the movie as a whole is just as by
the numbers as it gets. When the central story kicks in involving the captured
drug lord and his offer to the public, you know what’s going to follow and
there aren’t really any surprises afterward, except maybe for one involving a
traitor among the SWAT team, but it does little to juice up the action.
S.W.A.T. is hardly a bad movie. With a cast like this and a certain level of energy that it has, it would be difficult not to enjoy. However, it doesn’t break any new ground as far as action goes. In the end, we feel as if we’ve seen something that we have seen many, many, many times before.
Columbia Tri Star ends 2003 with a bang in the form of yet another fantastic disc. The anamorphic picture is as big and explosively good as it gets. Every element, in terms of colors and images are presented in the highest form, as only CTS can deliver. A much terrific job! A full frame version is available separately.
On a personal footnote, this is the first disc I tested on a new home theater system I got, and I was absolutely blown away. The 5.1 mix will hook you in right from the opening shootout action sequence. From that point on, the sound power is so strong it doesn’t even begin to let up. Dynamic range is definitely the case here, as action, dialogue, and some kicking music selections all take first seat in this incredible sounding presentation.
Columbia Tri Star has delivered yet another winner of a loaded disc. This Special Edition release includes 2 commentary tracks; one with the director and cast, and the second with the screenwriters and the technical consultant. Also on hand are four featurettes as well as a technical behind the scenes look titled “Sound & Fury of S.W.A.T”. Lastly, there is a gag reel, deleted scenes, trailers, and filmographies.