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S.W.A.T

dir: Clark Johnson
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S.W.A.T. is a pointless film rendered more pointless by being a big screen version of a television series no-one needed to see again. If they’re going to remake this crap, then they need to do a remake of The A Team (which they are doing, I believe), Who’s the Boss and Touched By an Angel as well. Why the hell not? Where’s that Cheers movie everyone’s been dying for? What about Shatner making a comeback in T.J. Hooker? How about another version of Dragnet? Or Hart to Hart, with Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers? The Love Boat; now that’s begging to be remade on the big screen. The list is endless. As is the amount of talentless people willing to hitch their wagon onto an unoriginal idea since they lack the ability to think up anything for themselves.

So from pointless origins we get a pointless film. The dialogue is surreal, in that not a single conversation occurring during the movie sounds like it could occur between any people apart from actors on the set of a crappy movie. None of the actors are believable, because the director has no idea what to do with them, or how to advise them to act. The story is so idiot simple that even a studio executive could understand it, which means the rest of us are incredulous as to why millions of dollars were devoted to telling such a nothing story. The last half of the film has no dialogue that doesn’t involve the purely functional “we are going here, they are going there, we must catch them" type crap.

Some of the actors involved have genuine talent. Colin Farrell, Samuel L Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez are all decent actors. LL Cool J might have been a decent rapper an eon ago, but apart from taking lots of steroids and showing off his abs I can barely work out what he’s doing in this or any other movie. The movie does everything it can to smother their abilities under a layer of pointlessness so complete as to render the entire exercise one in futility. From our point of view. From their point of view I’m sure it’s all an unqualified success.

Clark Johnson, as director, brings the sum and total of his expertise to bear on this project, gleaned from decades of working in television, and crafts it all into a shonky construction so inept that had a child in Woodwork class constructed it, their parent would still them it’s a piece of crap. How heartless is that?

The villain for the piece is chosen simply because he is French. We all know how much Americans (apparently) hate French people at the moment, so who else would you want? Having South Americans as crime lords is passe; Italian, Chinese, Russian and Japanese organised crime has been done to death, and people are now reluctantly avoiding casting people of Middle Eastern extraction as villains (wonder how long that’s going to last). Thus, why not have someone that everyone can loathe equally without anyone crying ‘racism’ and getting the ACLU involved? The trusty French! They’re just the ticket.

Olivier Martinez is singularly one-note throughout, but bizarrely comes off better than any of the other pieces of furniture masquerading as actors in this badly written paeon to mediocrity. I salute him. Especially the way he yells “WAN HAAADRED MEEON DOLLAS!” That’s champagne material, that is.

The point of the film is to partially represent just how wonderful the members of a SWAT team are, perhaps to act as a counterbalance to the multitude of negative portrayals of police that exist out there. Last year alone we had the excellent double punch of Narc and Dark Blue, which again plumbed the depths of police corruption, but did so in interesting ways. The year before Denzel won the Oscar for playing a cop so utterly corrupt that he ceased being a possible embodiment of police arrogance and the propensity for corruption, and became a comic book super-villain that need some kind of metal suit like Dr Doom just to complete the image.

So naturally we need someone to come back and say, “Eh, they’re not so bad”. For after all, are they not the last line of defence protecting us from the great unwashed hordes that want to kill us, rape our women/pets and steal our DVD players? And thus is not the social fabric maintained by these heroic paragons of virtue that stop our cities from descending into complete anarchy? At the very least they seem to be doing a Bang Up Job, if this popcorn flick is to be taken as truth.

So it’s about time the police force in LA had some positive propaganda in its favour, don’t you think? It’s been a while since there’ve been any massive corruption scandals, so it’s prime time. In this war-torn world gone mad, surely people are crying out for heroes. Especially ones in snazzy uniforms.

The SWAT are represented as being so heroically awesome, so large in the pants area and so good at their jobs that other cops as well hold them in shock and awe. The guy who runs the SWAT team (‘Hondo’, in case you missed it) is such a complete tube of wonderful that he runs the squad as his personal fiefdom, hiring and firing personnel based on personal preference. He neglects to hire one potential recruit because the cop is a vegetarian, and obviously isn’t masculine enough for the job. He hires a female recruit only because she has no problem beating up suspects and has a record of abusing criminals. Therefore she is ‘tough’ enough for the job.

Underneath the bullshit macho posturing is a lack of anything resembling motivation or heart. We don’t care enough about any of the characters to have an opinion as to whether we care if they live or die. That includes heroes and villains. The film chugs along to a destination rendered pointless because it has ultimately gone nowhere. Having nothing but cliches of macho guys acting like fuckwits and even worse, the whole stack of cop cliches that are available puts this little audience member into sleepy mode, not into adrenaline pumping mode.

The simulated attack on the airliner as a training exercise was reasonably well done. Everything else in the film came out of some kit which allows producers to construct a film from used parts. And to call the manner in which it is put together simple-minded is an insult to simple-minded people everywhere.

With no brains, no balls, no heart and no real entertaining action that can’t be seen in thousands of other films, this film has little if anything to recommend it. Every actor in it coasts along with their eye on the paycheck. Movies like this neither hurt nor improve an actor’s standing in Hollywood. It’s something you do to earn a bundle in between doing decent films (at least as far as Jackson, Farrell and Rodriguez are concerned). For the rest this is the best they can hope for. The fucking hacks.

A better acronym for the title would be T.W.A.T.S

1 time I wanted all of the people in this film to contract a painful but not fatal STD out of 10

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"You know what they say, you're either SWAT or you're not. " urrgh, goddamnit S.W.A.T.

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