S.W.A.T. - movie review [contains links to spoilers] (August 10, 2003)

"Even cops dial 911".  I love the tagline for this film.  When I first heard that they were doing a big screen version of this mid-1970s police show, I was excited and concerned.  I absolutely loved the television series (but I didn't remember that it was only on for two short seasons), so while I was intrigued that they were remaking it as a feature, I also know that film remakes of TV shows don't always come out right.  I was a bit heartened when I heard that Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell were hired though, as I like both of them.  OK, so Samuel L. Jackson looks and acts nothing like Steve Forrest, but I can handle a different take on Sergeant "Hondo" Harrelson.  And Colin Farrell seemed ably suited to play Jim Street, the character previously portrayed by the late Robert Urich.

So opening weekend, there I was at the movie theatre.  And overall, I thought the film was fine.  It had good action sequences, and it had some good story.  Both Jackson and Farrell were good, as were LL Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez as two other S.W.A.T. teammates.  But, in the end, I was disappointed.  They took the television show and basically re-wrote it, and it confounds me that they chose to take this approach.  I would have been much happier if they'd taken the basic premise (the story of the officers of this elite police squad) and used totally new characters.  (As I understand it, that's pretty much what they did with the "Charlie's Angels" films.)  If they were counting on fans of the old show to come see this new film, the changes that they've made to the characters are a total turnoff.  And for those watching the movie who don't know the show, having some of the same character names won't make a difference at all.

To read my two objections about the film, please click here.

On other acting notes, Olivier Martinez ("Unfaithful") is fine as the bad guy, though it's an extremely one-dimensional role.  And there are two familiar and very welcome cameos.  To read more about that, please click here.

I'd give the film a marginal recommend, as I think it will be more enjoyable for those who have no background in the television series.  But I just found out that the first season of the TV show "S.W.A.T." is available on DVD, so I'd recommend picking that up.  I'll be heading to dvdplanet to pick up my copy as soon as I can.



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