The movie reads like the back of a conditioner bottle: apply stereotype, massage into cliche, lather, rinse, repeat.Hey have I got a movie for you...if you don't own a TV and have never seen one Cop Flick in your entire life. Based on the semi-admired TV series of the same name, the new ensemble police procedural S.W.A.T. offers a whole lot of boys-in-blue schpiel that we've seen a thousand times before - and very little else.
The plot is an overstuffed and undercooked collection of cop conventions all wrapped around a frankly boring tale of one sneering and villainous Frenchman. We have the "wrongly blackballed Good Cop who's looking for redemption", the "ornery sergeant who plays by his own rules", the preening beefcake, the shifty-eyed Golden Boy, and the aggravated Lady Cop Who Gets No Respect. Toss in the aforementioned French guy, and apparently that's all you need to get a flick made these days.
Director Clark Johnson (TV's "The Shield") acquits himself moderately well in the film's extended action sequences. It's just a crying shame that the endlessly familiar screenplay only affords him the chance to break out the fireworks every 40-some minutes. And the pauses between the adrenaline jolts are long and consistently tiresome.
See, it's a delicate balance: offer too little action and you're then dependent on a compelling screenplay - and the dialogue and plot devices on constant display throughout S.W.A.T. are not exactly the trademarks of a winning script. So in between the few & far between moments of kinetic mayhem, we're subjected to ponderous scenes of half-baked character development, the introduction of numerous instantly-recognizable plot gimmicks, and the sort of forced Cop Banter that one generally finds in weaker episodes of "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue".
The cast is surprisingly strong, which makes how little they're given to do even more of a shame. Colin Farrell (Phone Booth) does the best he can with a horrendously underwritten Lead Character, Sam L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) barks and bellows in his trademark fashion, the ever-muscular LL Cool J (Any Given Sunday) bares his chest, and the ever-surly Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight) does not.
It seems clear that Johnson and his massive array of screenwriters were trying to mix an inventive cop procedural with a traditional action flick. Unfortunately, S.W.A.T. earns a meager grade on both counts: the action scenes are sparse and only sporadically exciting, and the non-action-scenes are omnipresent and frustratingly trite.Why drop eight bucks on a story you can see on Network TV every night of the week? Heck why drop eight bucks on a story you've already SEEN on Network TV every night of the week?