Dir: Clark Jackson
Star: Colin Farrell, Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J

Much like The Mod Squad, this is based on a largely-forgotten TV series, and it's a movie with two speeds: tediously dull and hyperactive thrash. I'm not quite sure which is worse. The first hour or so is taken up with the assembly of a tedious collection of cliches into a SWAT team: the grizzled veteran (Jackson), the loose cannon (Farrell), the tough woman (Rodriguez, natch), and so on. They train, they bond, they squabble. We've seen this a hundred times before - now, make it 101. Then, it's as if someone smacked the director and reminded him this was supposed to be an action film. Suddenly, a captured crime lord, who barely appeared in the first half, offers $100m to whoever frees him (an idea ripe with unexplored potential), and it's up to our heroes to transport him to a federal facility.

From here on, S.W.A.T careers from one set piece to another without pause for breath or conscious thought. At first, it seems fun, like being licked by a speed-crazed labrador, but the entertainment value soon evaporates, not least because hardly an element makes sense. For example, they're initially going to transport the villain by helicopter, until someone shoots the copter down before it even arrives. But of what plan, exactly, was that a part? And while there's no denying that if you want, say, a grizzled veteran, Samuel L. Jackson is likely to be good in the role, it doesn't mean you should fill your movie this way. This film doesn't have a cast, it has a typecast, and in most other ways is just as painfully obvious.

October 2004

This gun's for you...
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