Film Reviews

S.W.A.T.

By • Aug 8th, 2003 •

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Columbia Pictures
Rated PG-13 / Running time: 111 minutes.

I went directly from Rio de Janeiro to the screening of S.W.A.T. My host, Frederico Aguiar, President of Weiser Itage (condornaoletal.com.br), is the exclusive representative for Condor, the industry leader in non-lethal weapons.

There are no non-lethal weapons used in S.W.A.T.

It starts right off in the middle of a bank robbery with S.W.A.T. officer Jim Street’s (Colin Farrell) partner Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner) killing one of the robbers and injuring a hostage. They were told to “stand down,” so Street is taken off S.W.A.T. and his partner resigns in fury. Did Street compromise “partner ethics” and sell out Gamble to keep his job? Veteran S.W.A.T. leader Lt. Dan “Hondo” Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson) is brought in to form a new S.W.A.T. team. Harrelson wants Street and fights the argumentative D.A. for him. Harrelson handpicks four more cops to make his team: Deacon “Deke” Kaye (James Todd Smith), T.J. McCabe (Josh Charles), Michael Boxer (Brain Van Holt) and a woman, Chris Sanchez (Michelle Rodriguez). We follow them through their training.

The arrival in L.A. of arch master criminal and French drug lord Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez) sets the action in high gear. After killing his uncle, Montel is stopped for a broken tail-light and arrested. His real identity is exposed. Escorted by S.W.A.T., Montel cleverly uses the media attention to offer $100,000,000 to anyone that breaks him out of jail. This clever ploy is even acknowledged by the S.W.A.T. team. Every criminal element in the city is in pursuit of freeing Montel. Acknowledging American ingenuity and greed, Montel waits for “agents unknown” from all sectors to come to his rescue.

This is not BAD BOYS 2. Explosions and extreme property damage are not the co-stars. Okay, Dr. Pepper and McDonalds have speaking parts. S.W.A.T. does have a good, clean story, psychological underpinnings, great police craft, a fabulous cast, and a confident director. Clark Johnson knows how to show off his beautiful cast, and build drama. Martinez, obscenely overlooked in UNFAITHFUL, will emerge as France’s make-up gift to America.

The script by David Ayer and David McKenna (story by Ron Mita & Jim McClain) hits all the right marks: Hip, saucy dialogue in the beginning, smart police work, nicely drawn characters and conflicts, and a nod to pop culture icons John Woo and the TV series S.W.A.T. All this, and the sexiest villain of 2003.

Farrell is comfortably terrific and Jackson knows how to seduce a costar of any gender with a smile. Trim and lean, Jackson works well with Farrell. Unfortunately, there is not enough of Farrell and Martinez together. Farrell has a lot of charisma with other actors while Martinez can simply enthrall the screen in close-up. People Magazine, please take note: The Sexiest Man Alive has arrived. Ben and Jen – formerly known as the hottest couple in cinema – you have been dethroned and its time to take acting lessons.


Directed by Clark Johnson.
Written by David Ayer and David McKenna

Cast:
Hondo: Samuel L. Jackson
Jim Street: Colin Farrell
Chris Sanchez: Michelle Rodriguez
Deke Kay: James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J)
T.J. McCabe: Josh Charles
Michael Boxer: Brian Van Holt
Brian Gamble: Jeremy Renner
Alex Montel: Olivier Martinez

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