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S.W.A.T.

Year: 2004
Production Co: Camelot Pictures
Studio: Columbia
Director: Clark Johnson
Cast: Colin Farrell, Samuel L Jackson, LL Cool J, Michelle Rodriguez, Olivier Martinez
In a genre where competitors are endlessly spat from the Hollywood meat grinder of generic plots, paper-thin characters, pyrotechnic destruction and human bones impervious to the most injurious of blows, an action movie needs something special to stand out nowadays.

Whether it's the Bad Boys -style buddy shtick (the same Hollywood Homicide missed by a mile), the iconic, nobody-can-touch-it status of a James Bond movie or the comic book connection of X Men or The Hulk, an action film without some never before seen gimmick just doesn't seem to cut it any more.

There's nothing inherently wrong with S.W.A.T. The characters live up to the action genre (flat and unoriginal). The action is everything you expect. The whole thing is a performance and charisma-free zone, with both Colin Farrell and Samuel L Jackson forgetting they have any talent and acting by proxy. There are plenty of gun battles, car chases and even a light plane landing on a bridge.

It's just that in a saturated action movie market, S.W.A.T. doesn't offer anything new. In fact it's so general the story does little to tie the characters to anything like a real SWAT unit - apart from the costumes and big trucks, they could be any superhero movie cops from the last thirty years.

After getting busted off the SWAT squad, too-cool-for-school Jim (Farrell) is demoted to a low-end job in the regular force. When the obnoxious captain of his department brings back a former SWAT pro (Jackson) to put together a new team thanks to the threat by a two-dimensional villain (Martinez), Jim is reinstated and he and his new buddies are put through the rigours of a Hollywood action movie. There's the obligatory fifteen minute training sequence, the requisite scene where they bond at a bar, the 'character' scene where they show their soft side by playing with kids and the testosterone-fuelled final half hour where they stop pissing about and finally kill people and blow shit up.

Even outside the hallowed stricture of action movie plotting, there are too many 'Who's the man?' flourishes - during the climax, when Jim has his gun pointed at the 'surprise'" villain (you'll never guess it's him until the end, okay?) and a single bullet left, he's so cool he empties the chamber and throws the gun aside so they can fight to the death.

If that doesn't make you groan in pain, you're either too easily pleased or a fourteen year old boy who spends too much time on your Playstation 2. If you are, you'll love the rest of S.W.A.T. If you're not - even if you do love action movies - there's much better things to spend $12 on. Wait for the video.

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