S.W.A.T. (2003)
Main cast: Samuel L Jackson (Sgt Dan 'Hondo' Harrelson), Colin Farrell (Jim Street), Michelle Rodriguez (Chris Sanchez), LL Cool J (David 'Deke' Kay), Josh Charles (TJ McCabe), Jeremy Renner (Brian Gamble), Brian Van Holt (Michael Boxer), and Olivier Martinez (Alex Montel)
Director: Clark Johnson


Having been bombarded by too many loud but hollow action flicks recently, I am really pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable and low-key S.W.A.T. is. Sure, it romanticizes the men and women of the SWAT squad, but it's an admirable romanticization to portrays them as heroic human beings rather than one-man superhero physics-defying machoman. Everything about S.W.A.T. is predictable and the whole former-partners turned enemies thing is hackneyed beyond belief, but it's still a very enjoyable movie.

The movie begins when the SWAT team moves in to defuse a hostage situation, and maverick Brian Gamble shoots one of the bad guys despite having orders not to do so. This causes both he and his partner Jim Street to come under fire, and Jim is offered a chance to remain on the SWAT team if he will testify that Brian is an unstable guy that should be expelled from the squad. Honoring the code of silence typically present among such action men, Jim refuses. Still, Brian believes Jim to be a turncoat and shows Jim the finger.

Today, Jim is just a cop but he, naturally, remains a SWAT boy at heart. Hanging around the SWAT training fields, he captures the attention of Dan Harrelson who is forming an even more elite special ops squad. The movie concentrates mostly on the developing friendship between Jim and Dan as well as Jim and his teammates, and Jim even find the possibility of romance with his squad mate, the single mother Chris. When bad guy Alex Montel offers 100 million dollars to anyone who can get him out of jail, and Jim's squad is dragged into the ensuing mess when Brian's own team now hits on Jim's squad that is escorting Alex, all hells break lose.

But that's mostly in the last hour or so in the movie. For the most part of the movie, S.W.A.T. concentrates on the squad members forming bonds with each even as they train, and it's quite enjoyable to watch, even if everybody here is a stereotype. Samuel L Jackson and Colin Farrell make a great duo while Farrell and Rodriguez have decent chemistry between them. The best thing, though, is how the movie chooses to bring out the human sides of these people, albeit in familiar ways. This squad isn't a bunch of superheroes, they are just well-trained men (and a woman) going the extra mile to keep the world safe. Isn't that sweet?

A bonus has to be how Rodriguez's Chris is portrayed as an able member of the team first, love interest second. In fact, the romance between Chris and Jack are on simmer mode, mostly unexplored even as the credit rolls. The promise is there, if they can find time and energy in between their heroics to explore the possibility.

With its good-looking cast, S.W.A.T. is a movie that is very easy on the eyes. But with a well-written script and good performances from the cast all around, whatever that is derivative about S.W.A.T. is redeemed by how it portrays itself as a thinking action movie with a heart pulsing strongly underneath the sweat and the tears of its main characters. Ultimately, this movie is almost inspirational in the most unexpected ways.

Rating: 88


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