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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

S.W.A.T or An Incredulous Offer

I rarely post movie reviews here; I usually save that for IMDB, but I thought this one had to go down for posterity as it was too juicy;-)I spent the better part of Saturday night siting glued to this film. The least I could do is credit it;-)


S.W.A.T is a deceptively good, yet occasionally predictable film. Throughout the movie, you could smell deception all the way, especially with the character called T.J. There was an uneasiness about him—call it an uncertainty, some kind of shiftiness—that rendered him an easy target for almost anything. Small wonder, therefore, that he would be the only one out of the L.Jackson/Farrell/Rodriguez/LL.Cool J/etc… team to be shot during a simulation.

I thought that was ominous.

T.J. was a cool guy, the kind of guy who exudes a chutzpah that is unparalleled, but it was all superficial. The look on his face that someone—ie Farrell’s character—could shoot better than he could was a damper to his confidence. But maybe, that was just a red herring for us viewers to think that there was going to be some serious competition among the team?

In so many ways, competition there was, because in the end, T.J. let the whole team down—not because he wasn’t able to overcome his chutzpah, but because he got greedy. I haven’t looked lately at what S.W.A.T team members earn, but I suspect it might be quite high. The appellation associated with them—“elite”—speaks volumes about how that corresponds with their salary I would guess.

Then again, salary structures were hardly the issue in the film, but I did find myself glued and captivated all the way through the film. I had to rush with my shower so that I could catch most of the dialogue and ascertain any clues that were so waiting to be uncovered. It was a good thing that there was a concomitant trail of the Frenchman criminal coming into the country, getting caught, killing someone, and weaving his own path of destruction as he went. Not necessarily in that order.

The clincher that I found most interesting, or rather, let me rephrase—the crux—was that call to have him released. It was rather incredulous though that news networks worldwide, in a complete shirk of their social responsibility, would give the criminal airtime for him to repeat his demand that he would give a gargantuan sum to anyone who would free him.

It was amusing for the storyline though, and the punch-line at the end of the film was cute: there he still was clad in his orange clothes en route to federal prison. So for all the explosions, the banditos, and what have you that tried—in vain—to rescue him, he STILL went to prison.

Still interesting though was the human nature aspect here.

Going back to T.J., he let his human frailty of greed overcome him, and that was essentially what revolved round the storyline of greed, but as I said earlier, you could sense it coming. It was a tad too predictable. However, what was nice was the ex-S.W.A.T introduced at the beginning of the film, only to re-emerge as one of the major protagonists. You could sense that he had an axe to grind, but not this deep.

Then again, wasn’t he a gambler? Nice little touch there.

In the final analysis, what I learnt from watching S.W.A.T – I like to think I learn from movies – is that primo, no one is indispensable (for all his kick-ass techniques, the ex-S.W.A.T. had to be kicked out of the force didn’t he because of his questionable character?); secondo, humans will be humans (or in this case, boys will be boys?), what with their atavistic tendency to want to get ahead over and above everyone else—be it by fair means or foul—even if it means conniving or contriving.; terto, everyone deserves a second chance. From Farrell to LL.Cool J to Rodriguez’s character, each one of these were wallowing in their own existence, unaware that they had skills that could take them far some day. Maybe Farrell’s character knew, but he had to be pushed. I liked that touch too: knowing that you are a kick-ass G.I. type, but willing to not push the envelope and draw attention to yourself. But Rodriguez’s character was cute. Asked whether she was interested in becoming S.W.A.T., she intoned, “…I just like applying all the time”. Which sounds exactly like what a lady might say in that given circumstance.

Once again, nice touch.

Over all, the dialogue was good; the storyline refreshing, albeit a bit incredulous. As for the action, well, with L.Jackson in here, you were always going to get wit and some firepower going awry (remember “Long Kiss Goodnight?”). Or maybe, I should have been talking about the director? Some contributors on IMDB know more about these than I could ever dream to. So I’ll pass on that one. But I do have to add, by way of conclusion, that for the length of the film, it still managed to hold one’s attention, and it was, frankly, refreshing to see someone as ostensibly top-notch like Farrell’s character training—without complaints or delusions of grandeur—with the rest of the putative/so-called “rookies”.

Another nice touch.

In conclusion, there were many nice touches here, though I think the Frenchman getting caught too early was a bit of a let-down. It just seemed to show that these French cannot even make sustainable criminality do-able.

But, hell, what would I know? I’m only an opinionated viewer, and I’d like to dash this film a full seven out of ten.



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