You Mean You Haven’t Watched…?: Our Review ‘S.W.A.T. (2003)

You Mean You Haven’t Watched…?: Our Review ‘S.W.A.T. (2003)

I wish I could lie to you all but the weather outside is simply miserable and it’s hard to find a reason to get away from our various streaming devices and modes of entertainment.  That’s why it’s up to us, to dig deep and find something that you may have over looked to help improve our state of mind and shake away those winter doldrums.

Up this time on ‘You Mean You Haven’t Watched…’ we go back again to the year 2003 for an underrated piece of popcorn cinema that you can just kick back and enjoy.  It’s time for S.W.A.T.

Returning back to his old stomping grounds, Sgt Dan ‘Hondo’ Harrelson (Samuel L Jackson) is tasked in assembling a kick ass new unit for LAPD S.W.A.T. at a time when public trust couldn’t be lower staring down an old captain (Larry Poindexter) a savvy public relations kind of cop whose just looking for an excuse to make an example of an old school cop like Hondo that he thinks is just behind the times.  Enter Jim Street (Colin Farrell) an ex-Navy SEAL relegated to the gun cage by the captain who wants to make an example of him alongside a couple of street smart rookies (LL Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez) to form the most freewheeling, but effective S.W.A.T team that the LAPD has ever seen.  There first assignment, transport an international drug kingpin (Oliver Martinez) into federal custody…AFTER he’s offered $100 million on TV to anyone willing to let him go!  With the city turning into a war zone filled with greedy and nefarious players, including Street’s ex partner (Jeremy Renner), they all face the ultimate test to determine if ‘Your S.W.A.T. or you’re not!’

Transitioning from a short lived TV show in the mid-70’s to a feature that raked in over $200 million globally and now rebooted once again into a hit TV show at CBS, the material and idea behind S.W.A.T. has always had legs but in spite of its success it has always felt like this movie version never quite got the appreciation it deserved.

Perhaps taken a little too seriously at the time, this has always been an action movie that was borderline self aware and almost meta in its approach.  The jokes were funny and the action was solid from beginning to end making itself clear to be a big, dumb fun piece of entertainment that was never meant to be categorized as a Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay kind of effort.  Director Clark Johnson had a firm grasp of the material from beginning to end, while the script that was co-written by David Ayer always had a distinct sense of swagger to it all.  This was never supposed to be an intense cop drama about the human toll of working in S.W.A.T; it’s was always supposed to be big, brash, dumb fun that allowed audiences to play cops for a couple of hours up on the screen.

Already well established as a leading man in Hollywood; Colin Farrell was smart enough here to play the material for what it was and he allowed his natural charisma and swagger to shine through as a hardnosed cop looking for redemption in his abilities and desire to be a cop doing some good on the mean city streets.  People don’t get more ruggedly charming and charismatic then Samuel L Jackson and on this pic he really was settling into his role as an elder statesman of these kinds of movies, and actually got to have a little fun with.  Michelle Rodriguez was coming off of her early successes with The Fast and The Furious along with Resident Evil to capture that tough as nails yet still feminine energy that she has become trademark for while LL Cool J used this as yet another feather in his cap as he slowly stopped getting cast as a token rapper in movies and transitioned into being a legitimate actor and star.  It’s the film that got Jeremy Renner noticed on a larger scale while the always stalwart and often underrated work of Oliver Martinez, Josh Charles and Brian Van Holt rounded out the entire team.  Everyone involved in this project knew that they had to play it all with a genuine, yet subtle air of cockiness to it all…and in my estimation, that’s why the movie worked so damn well.

Available now as a newly remastered Blu-Ray from our friends at Mill Creek Entertainment, the special features are a little thin but the picture and sound quality is top notch and it is available to stream for all Amazon Prime subscribers.

It ain’t high art…but it was never trying to be as S.W.A.T. makes it OK to have a cop movie that is big, loud and doesn’t take itself super seriously all at the same time.  Stay home, turn off your brain and turn the volume on this one.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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