Saturday, March 24, 2012

S.W.A.T.


   Even though this movie can be considered a bit 'old' now, its not one of those movies that just dates horribly a few years after its out. And in a time when theaters are full of over-hollywoodized obnoxious action movie dreck, you should stay home, rent S.W.A.T and have a different thrill ride altogether.

  Its not an in-your-face action movie. Theres a time and place for that. But its not here. Not now. Its kind of like... the anti-Die Hard. Its grounded. Its focused. Centered. And driven more by character than action. Not saying that Die Hard isn't a great movie in its own, but its fantasy next to S.W.A.T. The best moments in this movie come from character development and some really great dialog. Not shootouts or car chases. Those are in here, but this isn't Bad Boys. Things that happen here tend to try and adhere to 'what it would really be like'.

And we know not all cops get in shootouts every two seconds with slow motion, so what would it really be like? Boring you say? No, thats where the movie makes its smartest move. Placing greater importance on people and character rather than explosions and a body count.
   So few 'action' movies are willing to do that nowadays. There is a moment a while into the movie, even Roger Ebert pointed out: "The characters had dialogue and occupied a real plot, which involved their motivations and personalities."
Exactly. Theres a point when you realize that these characters aren't just action figures with big toy guns, they're well written characters inhabiting a real enough world. Just letting in enough fantasy to keep the action fans happy. It never rapes the line of realism though. John Woo movies do that. And like I said, theres a time and place for it. But real shootouts don't look like well coreographed bloody ballets. They're very short, very brutal, noisy and confusing.
S.W.A.T. may not be out to pin down the realist side of shootouts, but Samuel L. Jackson's character points out in a great scene: "They only roll in John Woo movies, not in real life."

   And thats the beauty of S.W.A.T. (aside from the always beautiful Michelle Rodiguez that is) its a well thought out, well paced, and clever movie, in a time when films like Bad Boys 2 and Live Free or Die Hard set out to assault and overwhelm your senses. To leave you plastered you to your seat with your eyes wide and gasping for breath when the end credits finally roll. And again, I'm not saying that I don't always enjoy those kinds of movies... but S.W.A.T. ends with feeling like you've been on this journey, seen something acomplished, and you can ride out that last minute with a grin on your face. The characters have established a great and snappy dynamic, reinforced with great dialog and a classic theme as they ride off 'into the sunset' ready to 'answer the call'. Its a great ending to a damn fine and thoroughly competant police thriller.

   It may not be an overall great movie per se, and certainly has its own shortcomings, but its a very very entertaining flick. Two hours of solid entertainment with decent characters, good acting all around from a great cast with the likes of Colin Farrell, Samuel L Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, and Jeremy Renner. All that and good writing and dialog? A common and frequent pitfall of the modern actioner? How can I not reccommend this?

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