S.W.A.T. (6)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley



 There aren’t many modern actors I’d pay to see.  Russell Crowe is at the top of the list.  But Colin Farrell is right below him.  Farrell made Phone Booth a captivating film.  He even made the execrable Daredevil tolerable.  So that’s why I went to see S.W.A.T.

 This is a pretty standard police thriller, but it deviates from the modern norm in that it pictures the LAPD in a fairly favorable light.  Jim Street (Farrell) is a S.W.A.T. team member who gets into the doghouse of his hateful, self-centered boss, Capt. Thomas Fuller (Larry Poindexter), who banishes him to routine work in the “cage.”  Hondo Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson), also unliked by Fuller, rescues him and puts him on his team.  Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez) is a drug lord who’s captured, and offers a $100 million reward to anyone who can spring him.  Hondo’s team is assigned to protect him.

 This is an unexceptional, flawed, police shoot-em-up that kept me awake for the entire 109 minutes.  Unfortunately, the uninspired script barely scratches the surface of Farrell’s talents.  Anyone could have handled his part, even Ben Affleck.  Farrell’s a budding star and needs more challenging roles than this.

 One problem with this film is the music.  I watched the original The Thin Man (1934) again recently and one thing struck me--no music!  One of the classic mystery/comedies of all-time and there was no music.  S.W.A.T. would have been better had it copied The Thin Man, because S.W.A.T.’s music (Elliot Goldenthal) is inconsistent with the emotions it should be emphasizing. It’s loud and, rather than adding to the tension they’re ineptly trying to develop, detracts from what’s going on on the screen.  How would you like to watch Humphrey Bogart tell Ingrid Bergman, “We still have Paris,” to the background music of The Real Slim Shady?

 Another problem is that there’s a token woman, Chris Sanchez (Michele Rodriguez), on the team.  One thinks she’s being included for some reason, maybe to do something special or to provide a love or sex interest.  She’s shapely and beautiful and the film has scenes that establish her ability to cause significant mayhem. But, no, she’s just there.  And she’s still just there at the end, having done nothing remarkable.  Really, just a token; nothing more.

 The big climax is so contrived it lessens the drama of the film.  I would have thought that after setting this thing up the filmmakers would have had a challenging ending that would have required a S.W.A.T. team to perform exceptional services.  Alas, there’s nothing special about how they prevail.  It could have just as easily been the guys and gals from Law and Order.

 This is an enjoyable entertainment, but I can’t really call it any more than average.

 August 25, 2003

 The End