Another ancient TV show gets the big screen treatment with ice cool Samuel L. Jackson playing second fiddle to flavour of the month heartthrob Colin Farrell as elite cops in the Special Weapons And Tactics division of the LAPD.
This souped-up thriller boasts the obligatory daft names – Farrell is Street, Jackson is Hondo, known as “the gold standard of ass-kicking” – and the equally obligatory bullet-strewn setpiece action sequences as Jackson, Farrell and their buddies take on a European Godfather, LA’s rampant gangs and their own corrupt colleagues in a gung-ho display of gunplay.
Farrell is the cautious partner to a trigger-happy S.W.A.T. man who, in foiling a bank heist, wounds a civilian. With both off the case, Street chooses to accept being ditched from active duty while Gamble, his partner (Jeremy Renner) gives two fingers to the force.
When veteran sergeant Hondo arrives to form a super S.W.A.T. team, he chooses Street. Simultaneously French crime kingpin Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez) arrives to take over the running of the family firm but gets arrested on a technicality. Offering $100 million for his release, he is soon besieged with offers from the LA underworld. It’s down to the men (and women) of S.W.A.T. to make sure he doesn’t get away.
Resolutely another vehicle for wonder boy Farrell – 14 films in just four years – S.W.A.T. is a straight-up police thriller in the manner of the Lethal Weapon franchise but missing the gags. Jackson, following his own lead from the Vin Diesel starrer xXx, happily plays sergeant major-style support as the moustachioed hard nut while Farrell gets to do most of the shooting and running about.
In the hands of actor-turned-director Clark Johnson, who cut his teeth on TV dramas such as The Shield, S.W.A.T. becomes a slice of marginally OTT entertainment that exercises restraint over the more risky elements. Its 12A certificate means it boasts nothing too outrageous, though the inclusion of slo-mo testosterone moments comes as standard thanks to the influence of people like Michael (The Rock) Bay.
Nevertheless, the stunts and gunplay are not overdone to the point of disbelief and Farrell, Jackson and co-stars Michelle Rodriguez and LL Cool J act as a tight and effective ensemble.