Sony // 2010 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 1st, 2011
You're either S.W.A.T. or you're not.
I'm not, and, unfortunately, I wasn't even able to live vicariously through these guys' lame exploits.
Paul Cutler (Gabriel Macht, Behind Enemy Lines) is the top S.W.A.T. operator in Los Angeles. In fact, he's so bad-ass, the losers in Detroit have asked him to sign on as a consultant and get their dopey S.W.A.T. team certified.
Needless to say, the entrenched veterans don't take kindly to the hotshot West Coast cowboy barking orders at them, and tension soon erupts among the men. Add to that, a psycho government assassin (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) develops a real hard-on for killing Cutler and his team.
My favorite part of this gig is stumbling on a movie that I had no idea was even in the pipeline and being utterly surprised and delighted by its quality. Those gems that just sneak up on my unsuspecting cynical self are like a refreshing elixir in a desert of blandness.
Unfortunately, S.W.A.T.: Firefight is not one of those films. Perhaps it was some okay-sounding scuttlebutt I caught online about this release or the fact that I didn't loathe the original S.W.A.T., toothless and Michelle-Rodriguez-infected as it was, but I was holding out marginal hopes that this follow-up would at least be a good way to spend 90 minutes.
Nope. While not an embarrassment, Firefight is still a misfire; clichéd, predictable, and sadly devoid of any real head-turning action sequences. The central problem is that our S.W.A.T. heroes don't have a whole lot to do. They respond to some standard-issue crises and rappel through windows, but the big bad opponents they face off against are just two guys: the government assassin and his war buddy. These heavies are capable and manage to run out a few of our heroes, but it's not much of a "firefight." Seems like a waste not to pit the S.W.A.T. team against a squad of foes. At least the action would be more rewarding.
Genre clichés are firmly locked in place: the loudmouth, shockingly unprofessional squad member is made an example of by the new instructor; a spunky female operator is brought in and she promptly emasculates all the guys on the team; the bad guy takes something way too personally, goes psycho and embarks on a foolish request mission (added bonus: he works for the CIA and he teams up with an unstable veteran!); our hero's superior continually makes the wrong call until finally caving in and allowing Cutler to go on a personal search-and-destroy mission, thus ensuring Detroit's property insurance skyrockets.
If you decide to deploy for this lukewarm mission, Sony's Blu-ray will treat you well. The 1.78:1, 1080p transfer offers a clean, attractive picture, rendering the explosions and kinetic moments nicely. Even when the on-screen shenanigans shift entirely into nighttime for the finale, the resolution still holds strong. A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track pushes the sound well, sending the various bullets around the speaker setup. One extra: a behind-the-scenes featurette on training with the guns.
Mediocrity appears to be the target and S.W.A.T.: Firefight nails it.
Guilty. Go rappel somewhere else.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R