The Bottom Line: An enjoyable if a bit lacking summer film.
In the 1960s with urban tensions at an all time high following the Watts riots a special police unit was formed in Los Angeles to combat the new threats and situations that the typical officer was not trained to handle. The unit was the now famous S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons And Tactics), which has become a fixture over the years at police departments the world over and has been featured in many films and television shows and was even the basis for a popular show in the 70s. The popularity in media shows how the unit created out of necessity to save lives and keep the peace has become a fixture of modern society.
In the film based upon the show of the same name, audiences are introduced to S.W.A.T. Officers Jim Street (Colin Farrell), and Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner), as they attempt to diffuse a very violent standoff involving hostages and well armed robbers. Gamble ignores an order to hold position and resolves the situation his way much to the chagrin of the department and many fellow officers who despite supporting his actions in private and off the record find themselves distancing themselves from him. Faced with a load of pressure and bad publicity, Capt. Fuller (Larry Poindexter), removes Gamble from the unit and offers Street a chance to remain if he will admit that he did not support Gamble and that his actions violated his orders. Street remains loyal to Gamble and is assigned to menial duty. Gamble is angered by this and thinks street should support him and leave the force along with him and leaves in anger feeling betrayed by Street and the police force.
Flash forward six months, and Street is given a chance to redeem himself by Lt. Dan Hondo (Samuel L. Jackson), who is charged with assembling a new S.W.A.T. unit to restore the tarnished image of the department. Hondo is a maverick with a history and his decision to include Street and a female officer named Chris Sanchez (Michelle Rodriquez), is not received well by Fuller. He agrees to the team only on the condition that should they screw up, then Hondo and Street are off the force.
In no time, the unit completes training setting a new course record in their final evaluation drill and is put into service. Things are going well until an international fugitive named Alex Montel (Oliver Martinez), is taken into custody and after a violent escape attempt, the S.W.A.T. team is tasked with delivering him into Federal custody since they acted so well in preventing the escape attempt.
Things become further complicated when Montel offers a reward of $100 Million to anyone who can free him from prison. Naturally his televised offer gathers all sorts of attention and unleashes pure chaos leaving S.W.A.T. to keep the public safe and deliver Montel to justice.
There are some nice moments in the film and as Farrell and Jackson give solid performances and the action is solid without being unrealistic and over the top. The cast works well with one another but is in need of some depth for the supporting characters. LL Cool J gives a nice performance as David Deke Kay but he is reduced to little more than a good cop with a desire to do good. Rodriquez is given a tiny bit of depth, as we know she is a single mother but that is about it. The other two members of the team are fleshed out even less as one is the brother of Streets last girlfriend and the other has a taste for the high life. Martinez does well with a role that is basically a stock bad guy as he portrays Montel as a refined killer who is as comfy with killing as he is with nice clothing and cars as Montel believes that human life is something he can use and can be bought and sold at his whim.
Despite the lack of character development, S.W.A.T. works as it moves at a nice pace and contains a nice blend of action and comedy without being over the top. In this summer filled with over hyped mis-fires, S.W.A.T. is an entertaining film that is ready to serve.
3 stars out of 5
Gareth Von Kallenbach
International Association of Film Critics. firstname.lastname@example.org