S.W.A.T.

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Cast:
Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Dan ‘Hondo’ Harrelson
Colin Farrell as Jim Street
Jeremy Renner as Brian Gamble
Michelle Rodriguez as Chris Sanchez
LL Cool J as David ‘Deke’ Kay
Josh Charles as T.J. McCabe
Brian Van Holt as Boxer
Olivier Martinez as Alex Montel
Larry Poindexter as Capt. Tom Fuller
Reg E. Cathey as Lt. Velasquez
James DuMont as Gus
Matt Gerald as Nick
Lindsey Ginter as Agent Hauser
Page Kennedy as Travis Shipley

Summary:
A strong cast, lots of action, and a clever, fast paced plot make S.W.A.T. a fun ending to the summer movies of 2003.

Story:
This film is loosely based on the TV series of the same name.

Jim Street is a member of the Los Angeles S.W.A.T. team. He loves his job and seems to be addicted to the action that comes with it. However, everything changes when his partner, Brian Gamble, recklessly leads him into a dangerous situation against orders. When they must eventually face the consequences of their actions, Gamble decides to leave the police department while Street decides to stay on the force and ride out the storm. Feeling betrayed, Gamble leaves while Street takes a menial job in the gun locker.

Months later, the police department decides to revamp the S.W.A.T. team with a younger hotshot crew of specially trained rookies. S.W.A.T. legend Lt. Dan ‘Hondo’ Harrelson is brought back in to set up the team. He chooses a motley crew of individuals to train. When Street happens to catch his eye, he includes him in on the fun as well.

The new team trains hard together though their Captain is eager to see them fail. Their first major test comes when they are asked to transport crime figure Alex Montel to a prison facility. Matters are complicated when Montel boldly offers $100 million to anyone who breaks him out. The S.W.A.T. team must then face every hoodlum and thug in L.A. who decides to take a shot at breaking Montel out and winning the money.

S.W.A.T. is rated PG-13 for violence, language and sexual references.

What Worked:
This is the last big summer movie of 2003 and it’s a fun one. S.W.A.T. has everything you could ask for in a popcorn flick. It has a great cast, a lot of action, bits of humor, and a fast paced plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I never saw the TV show, so I can’t talk about how they compare. However, I can say that this is a TV show to movie adaptation that’s on par with The Fugitive in terms of entertainment value.

The cast in this movie is excellent. Colin Farrell continues to be a great leading man as our hero, Jim Street. Farrell not only delivers a convincing American accent, he handles the action very well. It’s quite a different role for him compared to Bullseye in Daredevil. Samuel L. Jackson is also good as Hondo. While his line delivery is a little stiff, his energy and enthusiasm more than make up for it. I can’t imagine anyone besides him playing this role and he really helps elevate the level of the cast. Michelle Rodriguez continues to be typecast as the tough chick in the movie. But I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. She plays the role well and I think she could even give Sarah Connor a run for her money on the toughness scale. LL Cool J continues to make the transition from music to acting and he does it well. He adds some much needed comic relief in the movie and he, too, is great in the action scenes. Jeremy Renner rounds out the cast as Brian Gamble and I swear this guy has to be related to Elijah Wood in some way. He looks like his older brother.

The plot in the movie is really fast paced with hardly a moment to catch your breath. The action is also first rate. There are times when I thought I was watching another Die Hard sequel. There’s a great scene where the team raids a mock hijacked airliner in a training simulation. The scene is well choreographed and makes you hold your breath even though you know it’s a training exercise. The final fight scene seems like it’s almost 40 minutes long as it moves both above and below the streets of Los Angeles. Numerous gunfights and training sequences fill up the spaces between the major action sequences.

Director Clark Johnson really comes out of nowhere to deliver a fun popcorn flick. This is the first time he has directed a feature film, but he has a long list of TV directing credits including NYPD Blue, Third Watch, The West Wing, Law and Order, and more. He certainly knows his cop dramas, and this movie shows he knows his action movies as well.

What Didn’t Work:
S.W.A.T. had a few problems that were easily overlooked but still worth mentioning. For some reason Colin Farrell is shown spitting repeatedly and even barfing once. I kept wondering what bodily fluid we’d get to see him expel next.

The next problem is that the trailer gave away most of the plot. It ruins most of the major twists and turns in the story, so there’s nothing that will really surprise you if you’ve seen the promos.

While most of the movie seems pretty realistic, there are some moments where things are unrealistic. As seen in the trailer, a plane lands on a bridge in the middle of Los Angeles. I don’t know how big the bridge is or how short of a runway a private jet needs, but it seemed a bit far-fetched. As you also know from the trailer a helicopter is shot down. Yet, two scenes later, we see police helicopters flying all around without caution. That seemed unrealistic as well. It also seemed like the S.W.A.T. team could have found a better way to transport the prisoner considering everything that happened. Anyway, these are all minor gripes and things that I only noticed after the movie was over. While watching the story unfold, I was so into it that I was willing to buy anything they threw at me.

The Bottom Line:
Overall S.W.A.T. is a fun action movie that’s well worth checking out on the big screen. If you’re looking for a good popcorn flick, this is one you won’t want to miss.

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