S.W.A.T.: Firefight (2011)

S.W.A.T.-FirefightBy now it’s a pretty quick assumption that we may never get a truly great movie about “SWAT” the television show. What was a gritty violent and often disturbing show about life on the business as a SWAT officer became a pretty high budget and meek blockbuster vehicle for a cast of B listers who were more GI Joe and less “Heat.” Now with “Firefight” the studio behind this star-less vehicle ups the ante by pretty much assuring we’ll never see a reboot ever again with a competent cast. Which is not to say “Firefight” is a bad movie. It’s not. In fact it’s a very well made and steadily paced “sequel” that takes every precaution to do what it can with the cast of D listers who take up spots that once belonged to up and comers like Colin Farrell and Jeremy Renner and veterans like Samuel L. Jackson.

Maybe it’s a good thing the name recognition is lacking. “Firefight” is the 2011 direct sequel to the fairly entertaining 2003 actioner that catches on to a new team of recruits, all of whom are facing new terrors in the realm of the established industry as we saw in the first film. “Firefight” is exactly the kind of sequel I would have wanted had Hollywood invested in another movie and not been so concerned with fetishizing Farrell. Director Benny Boom’s newest takes place in Detroit where the dashing and slick talking Paul Cutler as played by Gabriel Macht is recruited to lead a small band of SWAT team members in to service thanks to the escalating crime rate. Cue a lot of sly one liners thrown around, a heaping help full of male bravado, and some well staged training sequences, all leading in to what amounts to another version of “Speed.”

But for all of the caveats it has it’s a rather entertaining follow-up with some dazzling characters. In spite of the evident advantages toward the production that it scores there are some meaningless moments and evident drawbacks that keep this firmly grounded in to B movie material, particularly pointless cameos and special effects that are lacking. One shot especially features one of the goofiest gun shot slow motion sequences ever depicted. In the same vein there isn’t much character beyond the usual archetypes and Macht’s own individual hero who gets the most emphasis in character and a little less individuality. And I’m still not sure why Kristanna Loken gets top billing in the film when she’s in it a combined three minutes.

But as with most DVD sequels, “Firefight” needs all the ammo it can get to catch fans attentions, and it should have relied on the strength of its writing instead of star power to get it ahead. Because when it’s not touting B movie stars like Loken and Robert Patrick, it does a damn fine job as an action film and a crime thriller that respectfully and quite admirably follows up its 2003 predecessor in terms of entertainment value and action. Yes there is a sequel to the 2003 actioner “SWAT” out there, and if you’re a fan of the somewhat blockbusting vehicle, than you may very well enjoy “Firefight” a very watchable and entertaining follow-up that works as a reboot to a potential DVD franchise with some possibilities for more sequels and more absurd sub-titles like “Firefight.” Maybe “Explosions Tactics,” or “Ballistical Carnage Syndrome.” Hey, it could work.