Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
"Even cops dial 911." That's a pretty cool tagline for a movie and it got me psyched so I was ready for the last big action blow-out of the summer - S.W.A.T. The movie was alright for a PG-13 rated action movie but I'm going have to call Bad Boys II the real last big action flick of the season.
The movie has some decent sequences but it is ultimately handicapped by the PG-13 rating and the attempts by the film makers to tell a character driven story. As we all know, good action movies don't have characters or stories. They have heroes, disposable bad guys, and a never ending series of gunfights, car chases, and explosions.
The story S.W.A.T. tries to tell is the tale of a Dirty Dozen type group of misfit police officers who are assembled by a tough old S.W.A.T. commander into the best team ever. This team includes the best two veteran S.W.A.T. guys on the force, a disgraced hotshot, a gifted patrol cop and a tough yet hot-chick who is also an officer. The first part of the film shows their training and bonding as a team. The second part of the film deals with their responsibility to transport a French drug dealer (with a Spanish / Colombian accent?) who has made an offer to the world of $100 million for anyone who can break him free of police custody. Of course many thugs, gang members, hooligans and assorted criminals take up his offer. It's up to S.W.A.T. to keep him in custody and complete the transport to the feds.
The action sequences in the film are decent. There is a great scene near the end where the bad guys land a plane on the 6th Street Bridge in Down Town LA (actual location provided to projectalan by John Fiorentino) in an attempt to escape with the drug dealer. Of course, I assume and hope that in real life, a plane that breaks it's flight plan and starts buzzing low around Los Angeles would immediately be incinerated by fighter jets. Other than that there are serviceable action scenes but nothing too memorable. The biggest problem I had was that I felt that the training part of the movie was way to long. I would have rather seen them training briefly and then maybe go on a few more real jobs before they get the big drug dealer assignment. Because of this I kept thinking that what I was really watching was just a big budget episode of the A-Team.
I don't usually comment on this, but I thought the music for this film was incongruous with what was happening on the screen as well. It has a great sound track full of good old and new music but Jimmy Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" seems like it would be more appropriate for a car chase than a series of training scenes in a mock apartment building. The new Jane's Addiction song "Just Because" is a cool tune but was used at a weird moment in the movie where it didn't belong as well.
The actors all do fine in their roles. Samuel Jackson is perfect as always as the tough old commander of the S.W.A.T. team. It was very similar but less sinister than his role in Basic. Colin Farrell was fine and handsome as the hotshot tough guy who the old commander takes a shine to. Michelle Rodriguez was hotter than usual as the tough chick Sanchez. Her job in Hollywood now seems to be playing the role made famous by Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez in Aliens. LL Cool J (featured in this week's Wide World of News) is pumped up as ex-beat cop Deke Kay. And Josh Charles the guy from Sports Night who isn't on Six Feet Under is fine as one of the veteran S.W.A.T. guys. No one else of name is in the movie and although the drug dealer villain looks kind of like the drug dealer villain in Bad Boys II it's not the same guy.
S.W.A.T. is not a bad movie. It's worth watching once. One thing that was neat was that before the film I got to see the preview for the movie based on my favorite John Grisham book The Runaway Jury and also a preview for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. So if you add the cool previews to the OK movie it was worth the $7 dollars.