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Introduction
Yet another cop action flick has arrived. Unfortunately, the “new” angle of making this a SWAT group is not enough to make this film any better than all the other films with the same plot and characters. Don’t go in expecting anything and you may find this film worth the price of a rental. A very good DVD package included here may help make up your mind if you are into supplemental features.

S.W.A.T.: Special Edition

Movie
S.W.A.T. wastes no time at all diving into the vast world of boring cop clichés. A SWAT team is called in to help save hostages during a violent bank heist. Unfortunately, the tension (supposedly) heats up when a SWAT member must make a decision to save a hostage. This leads to Jim Street (Colin Farrell, Minority Report) and his quick-triggered partner being relieved of their SWAT duties.  Street’s partner leaves and Street is left to work in the gun room.  Street’s troubles don’t end there. He looses his girl in a “It’s not you, it’s me” (literally) moment.

Of course, it doesn’t take long before Sgt. Dan Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction) eyes Street as potential manpower for the new SWAT team he has been okayed to put together. The formulaically scripted men in suits are less than happy with the decision but allow him to proceed with the creation of the team. Rounding out this SWAT group are Chris Sanchez (Michelle Rodriquez, Resident Evil) and David Kay (LL Cool J).

As the new SWAT team begins to train, we are slowly introduced to our “bad guy”.  Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez, Unfaithful) is French, of course, and charming and ruthless. His plot, obvious and uninteresting, is intertwined with scenes of the SWAT group training, goofing off and training some more.  Montel comes off as a charmer at first but we slowly learn of his ruthless ways.  A simple mistake, however, lands Montel in the hands of the police.

The team’s real mission starts when they are requested to escort Montel to a desert facility. Unfortunately, Montel has announced on TV that he will give 100 million dollars to whomever is able to get him out of the cops’ hands. The ridiculousness starts as every thug with a bazooka takes over the city streets to try to get their hands on the money. They are surprisingly successful in reeking havoc as the SWAT team attempts to complete their mission. The action culminates in a series of totally implausible scenes that test the viewers patience and ability to suspend disbelief.

S.W.A.T. is not actually a poor film. What is wrong here is that there isn’t a frame of action or a word of dialogue we haven’t seen in some form before. Released after an explosive summer full of high quality action flicks (like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Bad Boys II, and dare I say Matrix Reloaded), S.W.A.T. feels like a second-rate product in a heavily saturated market. Had we never seen this before, it would be far more enjoyable. Even so, the film is well-made with quality direction from Clark Johnson (Drop Zone). The actors involved do well with the paper thin personalities that have been crafted for them.  Although, it must be said, it is very sad to see Colin Farrell waste the bit of talent he has on this sort of drivel.  This is a decent rental for those interested in yet another cop flick.

S.W.A.T.: Special Edition

Video
S.W.A.T. is delivered in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. While the picture remained crisp with especially fine color and contrast, there were some noticeable problems with the transfer that are ultimately inexcusable. Edge enhancement is visible in more than just a few scenes and compression artifacts could be found every now and then. Only the discerning viewer will notice these flaws, but they are there. The actual print itself is free from any nicks and scratches.


Audio
S.W.A.T.’s Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is very good while never being too impressive. Sound effects such as the hundreds of gunshots fired during the opening scene and the many training scenes are used well in all channels. Dialogue is never obstructed during the course of the film. The thumping soundtrack is loud and rich, bombarding the viewer from every direction in many scenes. This is a fine quality audio mix and is a good example of how a well used surround track can enhance an otherwise mostly unexciting film.

S.W.A.T.: Special Edition

Extras
There are two commentary tracks included on this DVD. The first is combination of a commentary with the films stars (Josh Charles, Samuel L. Jackson, Brian Van Holt, Michelle Rodriquez and LL Cool J) and one with director Clark Johnson alone. The combination allows the viewer to enjoy the infectious excitement of the cast as they recount on-set stories along with the technical insight provided by the director. The second commentary includes the four people it took to write the film. Some interesting light on the process of writing a Hollywood action film is shed. We learn during the commentary, for example, that those with story credits had never met those with screenwriting credits until the creation of this commentary.

“Anatomy of a Shootout” is a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the opening bank shootout scene. The action is broken down using behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the men who made it happen. This is a quick, short and ultimately very interesting featurette as it sheds some light on one of the most interesting parts of the film.

“S.W.A.T. – TV’s Original Super Cops” is a promotional piece for the DVD release of the original TV series that inspired the film. This piece is actually beneficial in that it shows you just enough of the TV show to satisfy any urges you had to check it out if you had never seen it.

“The Making of S.W.A.T.” is a 50/50 amongst making of specials. It starts off with typical interviews that comprise a good chunk of so-called making of featurettes these days. Fortunately, at about the halfway mark, the featurette gets to the real meat and potatoes and serves up some good information the way these shorts are supposed to.  There’s some good footage from the set of the film and the cast and crew provide some excited commentary and interviews.

A collection of 8 deleted scenes is provided without any commentary. With titles such as “Hondo Reviews Files at Home”, you know that there isn’t a big chance of any explosive scenes that were cut.  Most of these scenes are short bits of dialogue and don’t seem to have been cut for pacing, really.  They are simply uninteresting and extraneous.

“The 6th Street Bridge” featurette is another interesting piece composed of the same types of footage and interviews as the “Anatomy of a Shootout” featurette. This time, the focus is on the films big, action-packed finale.

“Sound and Fury – ‘The Sounds of S.W.A.T’” provides a look at the underappreciated art from of creating the sound for a film. In the submenu, you can choose “The Sounds of S.W.A.T.” which gives you background information of each of the weapons highlighted in the film. You can then watch a short video of the actual weapon being used. There are also breakdowns of 4 scenes that let you listen to different layers of sound individually. This is a great little piece that really helps one understand the complexity of film sound creation.

Rounding out the special features are filmographies, trailers for other Columbia releases and a gag reel that is actually quite entertaining.

S.W.A.T.: Special Edition

Overall
S.W.A.T. may entertain most. Although most of the action comes at the expense of regular common sense, it is well-designed and filmed. The picture quality found on this DVD is decent and the audio is very good. Furthermore, the extras contain a vast amount of information on the production of the film and can actually enhance the feature itself. Give the disc a spin once and then forget about it until yet another clone comes along.


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