Directed by Clark Johnson.
Written by David Ayer and David McKenna.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, LL Cool J and Michelle
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 8/11/03
Many of you have witnessed my first and last
film, “Gratuitous”, but you might not remember what theme song is
playing over the opening credits. Well, that song is the opening
theme song for the 1970s cop show “S.W.A.T.”, a very average cop
show that simply has the best opener of all time. And, with all of
those cheap gunfire and car screeches playing over the song, the
thing just screams cop show, and I friggin’ loved it.
Now, when they announced a film version of
the TV show, I didn’t know what to expect because the few times I
have seen the show, it was really nothing special...hence, I came
into this thing just hoping it wouldn’t suck. Worse, the film is
rated PG-13, and I was surprised it wasn’t an ‘R’ but it also meant
that it might not be as violent or profane as I normally like my cop
flicks to be.
But “S.W.A.T.” surprised me, mostly because
the action scenes are well done, tough and violent without being
bloody, and the four main stars of the film help create a fun
environment that has a lot more laughs than the TV show ever had,
that’s for sure. Some of the plot falls into cliché--a veteran
S.W.A.T. officer named Hondo (Samuel L. Jackson) is called back into
service after a three-year hiatus because the Los Angeles S.W.A.T.
Department has gone to shit. The police captain asks Hondo to
recruit a special ops S.W.A.T. unit to lead counterterrorism
efforts, so Hondo goes out and recruits five cops, including former
S.W.A.T. man Jim Street (Colin Farrell), Chris Sanchez (Michelle
Rodriguez, smiling more than usual), and “Deke” Kay (LL Cool J), to
form the unit. Eventually, the unit must protect a criminal
(Olivier Martinez, from
“Unfaithful”) that has offered $100 million
to anyone that can break him out of prison.
I have to admit, from start to finish,
“S.W.A.T.” is pretty solid. I like the requisite training/bonding
sequences that have to occur in all of these films, and director
Clark Johnson (veteran TV director and currently on “The Wire”) does
a great job of pacing his film with male social jousting,
large-scale action set pieces, and throwaways like following the
team as they go about their Sunday business when they are all
interrupted with a 911 call. And, there were a couple of really
interesting little things that the movie featured that I have been
waiting for movies to do for years--I think this is the first film I
have ever seen where bad guys use a padlock so large and so thick
that a good guy can’t just walk up to it and shoot it off. So
simple, yet it makes for a scene where the cops have a minor
And, to be honest, I could watch Colin
Farrell and LL Cool J hang out all day. Seriously, these two guys
are just damned cool. I can’t tell you how many times I caught
myself during the movie wondering how many days these two spent
during the shoot talking shit about how many times they got laid the
previous night. I can already see it--
LL: I can’t keep ‘em away, man. Five
came over last night, and we didn’t even wrap until 1 AM!!
Colin [in thick Irish brogue]: Five?
Shit, I shredded five for BREAKFAST this morning! I can’t keep
doing these shoots in LA, man. It’s like every day, I have
girls between takes, over lunch, after the shoot, on the
weekends...this shit is tough, being 26, Irish and the best
looking guy on the planet right now--
LL: Easy, tiger...I may be 35, but I
ain’t outta the game just yet. Have you seen my videos? I’m
the casting director, baby--I’m runnin’ through honies like
Lance Armstrong runs through finish lines.
And on and on. The film itself is plain ol’
solid and adds to an already deep pool of action-adventures for
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard