S.W.A.T. (2003) starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, L L Cool J, Olivier Martinez, Josh Charles, Jeremy Renner, Brian Van Holt directed by Clark Johnson Movie Review

S.W.A.T. (2003)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Colin Farrell as Jim Street in S.W.A.T.

Farrell and Jackson go crime S.W.A.T.-ing

Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell "S.W.A.T." is another movie which attempted to jump on the band wagon of adapting a 70's TV series to the big screen in a similar style to what they achieved with "Mission Impossible" 7 years earlier. Except the adaptation doesn't really work when it comes to "S.W.A.T." and not because it wasn't a big budget production, in fact it had around the same budget lavished on it as "Mission Impossible". The reason why it doesn't work is because it's unbalanced as well as lacking the thrill and excitement which it sorely needed to make it entertaining.

Following the aftermath of a controversial decision during a robbery/hostage situation Jim Street (Colin Farrell - Daredevil) and his partner Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker) are thrown out of the S.W.A.T. team. Gamble quits the force in anger but Street settles for a demotion in the hope that one day he will get another chance to be part of S.W.A.T.. That chance comes along when Commander Hondo (Samuel L. Jackson - xXx) is assigned to recruit and train a group of top officers for a special new S.W.A.T. unit. After weeks of training the new team get their first job and thrown into a heated situation when they have to escort drugs lord Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez - Unfaithful) across Los Angeles. Not an easy task when the drugs lord has offered $100 million for anyone who can help him escape.

Samuel L. Jackson as Hondo in S.W.A.T.

The idea of basically updating 70's TV show "S.W.A.T." to a modern day setting for a movie in itself is not a terrible idea and had the potential to be as entertaining as other TV to movie adaptations. But the movie is unbalanced and plays like a movie of two halves, with the first half introducing us to the members of the S.W.A.T. team and their rigorous training, whilst the second half tries to conjure up a thrilling storyline surrounding the transportation of the Drug Lord. Except the second half really fails to work feeling weak and quite rudimentary. In some ways it feels like the producers were pitching this as the first in a series of "S.W.A.T." movies, which would explain the emphasis on all the back story. But the actual storyline lets it down and pretty much seals its fate.

With the second half of "S.W.A.T." really failing to work it turns it basically into a no brainer action romp which attempts to thrill with fast paced action, which is a shame as the actual idea for the second half of the movie is quite clever. There are various avenues the movie could have gone down by having a criminal offering a reward to anyone who helps him escapes but misses out on capitalizing on these possibilities settling for the obvious. Yes the action is good and if all you want is an action packed movie which feels a little cliche then "S.W.A.T." will more than likely satisfy, but a little bit of ingenuity to make it intellectually thrilling wouldn't have gone a miss.

As for the performances well they are as rudimentary as the movie with no one really making any major impact. Samuel L. Jackson lacks the authority and gravitas he usually delivers when he appears in a movie whilst Colin Farrell pretty much does it by the number never offering up anything major to make his character really stand out or charismatic as you would expect. Then there is L L Cool J who seems to be in a very stereotypical role which he has done in various other movies and Michelle Rodriguez who manages to add some spark to a flat character still never really commands her role. But the biggest issue is in Oliver Martinez whose villainous Drugs Lord could have been pinched from any movie with the only thing distinguishing about him being his accent.

What this all boils down to is that if you want a movie which has some nicely shot action sequences and a few star names then "S.W.A.T." will be right up your street even if it all does feel a little cliche. But if you are expecting something on par with "Mission Impossible" or a movie which re-ignites an old TV series then you will be disappointed. The storyline although a clever idea is never developed fully and lacks the thrill that it should deliver.