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Tactical Failure 

S.W.A.T.'s best asset is its theme song.

When I was just a pup, back in the day when radio used to play instrumental TV show themes as if they were the latest Beyonce single (read: ad nauseam), I hated S.W.A.T. , the boring TV show about cops running around and occasionally shooting people. Happy Days was more up my alley.

However, I did love that S.W.A.T. song, and used to comb the radio stations looking for that baby. Whenever the show came on TV, I'd watch the credits for the tune, switching my attention to more important things by song's end, like coloring books or Lincoln Logs.

S.W.A.T. , a modern movie update of that show, stars Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson, and it does have something in common with its TV counterpart: The only thing in it really worth a damn is the theme song.

Those looking for non-stop action, a high body count and Michelle Rodriguez naked will be disappointed. The first half of the film focuses on blasé training exercises as Hondo (Jackson), an "old school" S.W.A.T. guy, trains a bunch of newbies in the ways of shooting a gun while rolling around on the ground and cracking wise at your partner. Writers of this movie apparently couldn't come up with enough action sequences to fill the film's running time, so we spend an inordinate amount of minutes watching movie stars shooting at targets and running through obstacle courses. Man, that's just movie dynamite.

This ragtag congregation of aspiring cops includes Farrell, Rodriguez, and a bunch of other guys you couldn't care less about unless you are an L.L. Cool J fan. Farrell and Rodriguez have decent screen chemistry together, an unfortunate thing because director Chuck Johnson doesn't let them get together in the traditional sense. The most mischievous moment the two spend on screen together is a showdown with Super Soakers at some kid's birthday party. So much for S.W.A.T. sex appeal.

Apart from an opening bank robbery reminiscent of Heat, where Farrell's partner gets in trouble for using unorthodox methodology to diffuse a hostage situation, the proceedings are rather sleepy. Things fire up a bit when an international criminal (Oliver Martinez), caught on television by news cameras, makes an offer of $100 million to anyone who can break him out of prison. This makes the streets of Los Angeles break out in chaos as multiple criminals start shooting things up in hopes of a big payday.

Subplots involving Farrell's failed relationships and his bad-boy S.W.A.T. partner remain underdeveloped, as does most of the movie. Farrell, who has made a career out of contributing decent acting to mostly sub-par movies, doesn't do anything to hurt that reputation.

Rodriguez, one of the better tough action-movie heroes going right now, is given little to do besides flash her charmingly crooked smile and take a few bullets. Jackson has some good verbal quips, but spends most of his time in the background shouting lines like, "Let's do this!" and "I don't like driving!" and "I'm well past my Pulp Fiction heyday, turning into a worn-out, tired action movie hack who frequents crap cinema for a big paycheck!" (OK, I made up that last one).

By the time the seventh or eighth variation of the theme song plays, shortly after a Lear jet lands on a bridge in what amounts to the film's highpoint, nearly two hours of disposable movie have passed you by.

For a fun summer cop movie, see Bad Boys II. For a lesson in how to portray one of the toughest, tautest, taxing professions on Earth as being duller than dust on dirt, watch S.W.A.T.

S.W.A.T.
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

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