S.W.A.T. (2003)


Directed by: Clark Johnson

I often wonder why some stars fall in Hollywood, as some actor’s careers disappear almost overnight. I also get perplexed how some actors somehow find a niche and can churn out the same tired act over and over, sometimes for over a freaking decade. If anything these actors are the true greats, great in the arts of deception, of perfecting a role and then repeating it over and over again. Michelle Rodriguez comes to mind as one such performer, she plays the gritty street smart Latina, or variations to that affect in almost every movie, but she’s had a decent career, made money, dated Supermodels and in fairness I will also concede that some of the films she’s been in haven’t been all that bad. She is proof that variety isn’t always a good thing. I guess she is reliable, a rock in the cast to build the film around.

‘S.W.A.T.’ contains a wide scale of acting performances veering from the OTT to the can’t be arsed; you’ve got Samuel L. Jackson going through the motions, Colin Farrell coasting, Jeremy Renner straining every sinew to get noticed by casting directors, and a supporting cast that includes the aforementioned Rodriguez and LL Cool J delivering exactly what they’re paid to deliver. Fans of ‘The Wire’ will also notice minor roles for the guy who played Herc and Tommy Carcetti’s right hand man, which seems unsurprising given that the film is directed by Clark Johnson, the guy who played Gus Haynes in Season Five.

Yes, ‘S.W.A.T.’ is erratic, but in essence it is a good, if a tad unbelievable story that plays well. Farrell is Jim Street, a competent S.W.A.T. team member who almost botches a hostage situation when a hostage is seriously wounded by a stray bullet fired by his hot-headed partner Gamble (Jeremy Renner). Street and Gamble get the Riggs and Murtaugh treatment from their superior and lose their positions on the frontline. A frustrated Gamble quits the force, whereas Street decides to accept his punishment and work in the gun cage.

A chance meeting with S.W.A.T. legend Hondo Harrelson (Jackson) gives Street a chance at getting his spot back, as part of Harrelson’s newly formed group of misfits and strays that he plans to run like an old school no nonsense S.W.A.T. division. After excelling in training Harrelson’s team are assigned to escort one of the world’s most wanted criminals. Mayhem ensues.

Despite a pendulum swing of acting performances levels Clark Johnson manages to breathe life into every character, which ultimately means that we care a bit about who lives and indeed who dies. Harrelson’s team bond quickly, and each have their own motivations for being part of the force. When the bullets fly and the tyres screech it is difficult not to find yourself on the edge of your seat. ‘S.W.A.T.’ is an early noughties above average action thriller that deserves a watch.


S.W.A.T. on IMDB


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