Retro Review: S.W.A.T.

Cops, terrorists, city under siege and an elite crime-fighting unit are just of the elements that appealed to viewers in the late 1970s as a new television show burst onto the scene.

The series showcased the best-of-the-best of law enforcement and starred TV veteran Steve Forrest as “Hondo” Harrelson and young actor Robert Urich as Jim Street. When SWAT debuted it was yet another TV show that showcased policemen as everyday superheroes and it but only lasted 34 episodes.

More than 25 years later, SWAT has been remade into a feature film starring Samuel L Jackson as “Hondo” and Colin Farrell as “Jim Street”. The film updates the concept of the series but still sticks with the “superhero-styled” persona of law enforcement. This being politically correct, especially when showcasing the LAPD, is up for debate.

The story of the new feature film finds Jim Street (Farrell) falling out of grace with the LAPD until legendary veteran Sgt. Dan ‘Hondo’ Harrelson (Jackson) returns to SWAT unit. Harrelson’s mission is to bring together the brightest and most fully-equipped unit the LAPD has ever seen. This will in turn hopefully bring back some of the glory and power of the LAPD.

After Harrelson assembles his team, their first mission is to escort a recently arrested drug kingpin Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez) to a maximum security facility. The catch is that Montel has announced to the media that he will pay anyone $100 million dollars if they secure his release from the LAPD.

This brings every crazy-bent-on-being-a-millionaire out of the woodwork to stand in the LAPD’s way. Can Hondo’s team get this madman to prison? Will one of his men fall for the reward and abandon his post? With the city in utter chaos, can they even survive this escort mission?

“SWAT” starts off with a bang. The opening action sequence is rigorous and does a lot to set-up the escalating plot of the film. The film also doesn’t rush into the action sequences as we get to know the members of the unit. Farrell is surprisingly very effective as Street and Jackson is dynamite as always. The film itself has its share of problems.

The first problem is that it is so predictable and not nearly as intense as it could be. So many people complained about the intensity and excessiveness of “Bad Boys 2” well this movie isn’t excessive enough. I never once felt that any of these guys were in danger or that Hondo wouldn’t succeed.

The second problem is the dialogue. There are so many bad lines that you sometimes cringe when people are talking. There really needed to be a script-doctor on this one.

Parts I did like mainly involved the formation of unit and the training exercises. I liked seeing what it takes to be SWAT. I also felt that these scenes made me think of the “Dirty Dozen” films and all their clones. I always loved those movies where a jaded misfit team is assembled for a deadly mission and only a few survive.

I also really enjoyed Colin Farrell, which is probably the first time since “Tigerland”. There are some amazing stunts and some great action scenes but the trailers for this film are far more exciting.

After witnessing “Bad Boys 2”, “SWAT” feels like tame cousin.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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