Originally set in 1975, the iconic series “S.W.A.T.” is given a welcome modern spin with all the original characters back in tow. Director Clark Johnson does a good job selecting an all-star hip cast to portray the famous characters from the original series. What this movie manages to do that most modern action films don’t is successfully establish every character, their personality, and their background which is interesting and then pulls the audience into the action taking place with the story. It’s reported among the stars that they actually studied the real S.W.A.T. training sequences and also interacted in exercises which can be seen in the very realistic and steadfast depictions of the exercises used by the S.W.A.T. infantry.
The best scenes in the film are when the team are training for S.W.A.T. with the great obstacle course, and the last training sequence involving breaking into a commercial airliner and taking out terrorists who have hostages aboard. They’re some of the more interesting and truly original scenes in the film. Samuel L. Jackson takes on the task of S.W.A.T. leader Sgt. Dan “Hondo” Harrelson (originally played by Steve Forrest in the original series) shines among his young co-stars with much gusto and magnetism. He tends to steal many of the scenes even though he doesn’t see or interact with much of the action taking place. Rapper/actor LL Cool J plays David ‘Deke’ Kay a tough officer who’s a family man at heart who signs on as one of the ass-kicking S.W.A.T. members. Cool J is great in the role that is almost suited for him giving the charm or a warrior while presenting the humility any man with children has.
He never chews the scenery but always shines in his parts. Along with him is Michelle Rodriguez as Chris Sanchez, one of the coolest characters in the film and a true pleasure to watch in action films of this caliber. Last but not least is Colin Farrell who plays Jim Street, the ex-S.W.A.T. member who’s just made it back into the team. Director Clark Johnson who’s experience in television, especially in prolific ensemble TV cop shows, manages to give the film (which would have easily been a dud) a kick it needed with a sleek stylish but realistic view into the S.W.A.T. infantry. Jeremy Renner does good as villain Gamble who manages to lay on the mustache twirling bit to a cue.
He’s a truly understated villain during the film and manages to play off well against Farrell’s charming character Street. His scenes make him look as if he’s truly worthy to take on this cast of characters. And while the characters Gamble and Martinez’ characters are potentially great villains, they’re rarely emphasized upon ruining their appeal and ultimately questioning their threat to the S.W.A.T. team. While the film works, it lacks a certain foundation of a tolerable villain, and fails to bring about any really exciting moments or action-packed scenes except for the dramatic closing, which is anticipated throughout the entire film. “S.W.A.T.” is surely flawed, but in the end manages to work well as action entertainment that’s empty, but otherwise very exciting and dazzling. I definitely had a great time with it.