Tuesday, March 22, 2011

S.W.A.T. (2003) - Proof that Samuel L. Jackson makes anything better

Back in the '70s there was a slick cop show called S.W.A.T. that starred Steve Forrest and Robert Urich as a pair of badass cops kicking ass and taking names. It was a pretty decent show, but what really stood the test of time was that bitching theme song (see end of the review). I dare anyone to try and find a theme song more '70s sounding than this one. It just makes you want to grab an assault rifle, hop over some fences, drive that big ass van really fast with the sirens blaring, and take down some criminal scum. It only took thirty something years for Hollywood to make an adaptation of the show, and it came out in 2003's inventively named S.W.A.T.

Street and Gamble shoot a hostage and they get shitcanned. There's no reset button in real life.
The movie opens with a thrilling shootout scene similar to the bank robbery in Heat, with a couple of masked dudes spraying AK-47s all over the place and taking hostages at a bank. SWAT is called in, and the action focuses on two cops, Officers Street (Colin Farrell) and Gamble (Jeremy Renner) as they sneak into the bank against orders, and end up shooting most of the robbers. Gamble being the hotshot prick that he is, shoots a guy holding a woman hostage, the bullet going through her shoulder before killing the bad guy. Immediately after the raid, Street and Gamble are told their SWAT careers are basically over. Gamble is hugely pissed off, and feels betrayed by both the department and his partner Street. He quits, while Street remains on the force working in the gun storage.

Gather round, children.
Shortly after, SWAT gets a new boss: Sergeant Hondo (Samuel L. Jackson), an old-school cop with a reputation for being a real hardass. Hondo is offered to take over SWAT, but he insists on picking his own team. He recruits Street, and has him join the new outfit, which includes Deacon (LL Cool J), Sanchez (Michelle Rodriguez) and TJ (Josh Charles). Almost right after they finish training, Los Angeles turns into a warzone when some French drug lord named Montel (Olivier Martinez) is captured, and the LAPD prepares to send him off to prison. Montel, in a usual dick move, announces he'll pay anyone who busts him out of jail $100 million bucks. With L.A. being L.A., armed gangs start planning to bust Montel and nab that reward. It's then up to Hondo's team to make sure the French sleazeball gets to prison and keep Los Angeles from being demolished.

That French guy has a funny accent. He must be a murderer.
As far as action movies go, S.W.A.T. isn't half bad. It's got a likeable cast, especially Sam Jackson who is always fun to watch, and Farrell and Renner are good at playing off each other. Michelle Rodriguez plays her usual tomboy role and is good at it, while LL Cool J just blurts out random one liners and shows off his abs a few times. The story is about as simple as they get, and you'll probably see the big twist at the end coming from a mile away. That's not to say it's not a fun ride. The action sequences are all very well shot and thankfully have none of that lame shaky camera that directors have hard ons for these days. There's a cool scene near the end with a jet, a bridge and a limo that is probably the highlight of the flick, and most of the action seems pretty believable.

Achievement Unlocked.
S.W.A.T.'s not a great action movie, but it's not a bad one either. A good cast and some nice action pieces can't make up for the weak story, but at least it has the charisma factor going for it. You can tell from most of the performances that no one is really playing it straight and the aim is basically for a fun popcorn flick, and in that they succeed. It's good enough for a lazy weekend, and in a world were we get a flood of Twilight movies every year, that's good enough for me too.

Without further ado, and in all its old school glory:

TL;DR - SWAT cops in L.A. shoot half the gang population and fight a Frenchman - 6.5/10


  1. After that he assumed a new force composed of all the major heroes and his codename was Nick Fury.

  2. I totally forgot that Jeremy Renner was in this movie! I vaguely remember seeing this at the movies...felt equally BLAH about it as well.

  3. The most underrated movie evar!!!!

  4. Amazing review. I'm gonna check this out!

  5. It is true. Mr. Jackson makes any movie better. And of course hes going to be great playing the "an old-school cop with a reputation for being a real hardass."

    Great review

  6. Love the review! Keep up the great work!

  7. one of my favourite actors to be fair