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Rated 3 stars
by 1434 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Intriguing Story Sparks Action Flick
by Diana Saenger

As we've already seen this year in Bad Boys II, Matrix Reloaded and T3, action movies present many opportunities to spin the story over the top with excessive gun battles, explosions, car chases and a host of unneeded special effects. Just what I expected to see in S.W.A.T. But to my surprise, this film tells an intriguing story. It's well made and features a great cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, LL. Cool J, Olivier Martinez and Michelle Rodriguez.

When Jim Street's (Farrell) partner takes the wrong action during a robbery, they are both thrown out of S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) by a superior who doesn't like either of them. Jim accepts a menial job in the gun cage until S.W.A.T. team commander Dan "Hondo" Harrelson (Jackson) selects him as one the recruits for a new S.W.A.T. squad.

I'm impressed by the effective way this film shows something of what it takes to become a member of the elite S.W.A.T. group. One isn't just "picked" for the job. Each member must complete special training and be able to handle extreme physical duties. We learn that these recruits will often face volatile situations that may endanger other patrolmen or civilians, so S.W.A.T. officers must also be able to analyze and plan a course of action quickly.

After Hondo trains his squad, which includes Chris (Michelle Rodriguez), a tough and savvy woman, the group gets the ultimate assignment. Alex (Olivier Martinez), an international terrorist,  has come to the U.S. with a fail-proof plan. When he's apprehended, he learns there is no such thing. Not to be outdone, Alex issues a statement during news coverage of his arrest. He'll give $100 million to anyone who gets him out of jail.

Because this offer quickly spreads, soon every renegade gang in the area is plotting how to earn the terrorist's money. On the day Alex is to be transported to his prison destination, several gangs make a run for the S.W.A.T. team transport. All are thwarted, but when someone within the organization crosses over for the reward, the team meets with difficult challenges they weren't expecting.

The characters in the film are well drawn. None of them are perfect; they all need to make discoveries about themselves. Jackson, attracted to the drama of the film, understood that although S.W.A.T. officers are trained to make a shot that will take someone out, that's not their main function. "Their job is to make sure everybody comes out of situations safely," he explained. "It takes a special kind of guy to be under that kind of pressure and still have the sensibility not to act like a cowboy."

Deke's (LL Cool J) level headedness, Jim's need to make the right decisions and Chris's goal to meet the guys on their own level all combine to force the team to be alert but vulnerable at the same time. Martinez, who drew raves for his sizzling portrayal as the other man in last year's Unfaithful, is perfect casting for the cool, calculating Alex.

S.W.A.T. delivers first-rate drama in a steadily-paced film with a terrific climactic ending.

(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated "PG-13" for violence, language and sexual references.)

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