DVD review: S.W.A.T.
by David Blackwell
S.W.A.T. isn't a bad movie for a summer action flick. It is based on the 1970s TV show. As a summer popcorn film, it has
more depth than some of the other movies released last summer and it is one of the best films (of this summer) to be released
on DVD this year.
The moive is about a former member of S.W.A.T., Jim Strret (Collin Farrell), gets another chance to be a part of S.W.A.T.
when an old school policeman, Sgt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson), is given the task of putting together a new
S.W.A.T. unit that includes Deke (L.L. Cool J), Chris Sanchez (Michelle Rodriguez), T.J. McCabe (Josh Charles), and Michael
Boxer (Brian Van Holt). The first half of the movie is the story of how the team is put together and showing them being trained
by Hondo. In the second half of the movie, they are given the job to transport an international drug kingpin (Oliver Martinez)
into federal custody after the drug kingpin offers $100 million to anyone who can set him free.
The acting is nop notch in this movie and you actually care what is going in this movie and the direction by Clark Johnson
works very well in this movie (who says actors can't become great directors). I hope he directs the sequel
if one is made by Columbia Pictures (FYI: the movie made $117 million in the uSA). ). The movie does have
a sense of realism due to the opening scene being inspired on the infamous 44 minute Hollywood shoot out between bank robbers
and cops (the screenwriters taped the news footage and put it to the theme song of S.W.A.T. and used that to help pitch the
TV show as a movie), and the actors and crew asking the former and current Los Angeles S.W.A.T. members if they were doing
something right (or how should they do this and that).
The only real problem with the picture on the DVD is one due to poor lighting when the train yard scene was shot because
I have seen better lighted scenes in the dark (in other movies and TV shows), but it could be a flaw in the transfer to DVD
(yet I doubt it) dealing with the way blacks are portrayed in the transfer. Other than that, the audio and
picture are fantastic on this DVD. The animated DVD menus with the S.W.A.T. theme song are cool and easy to navigate.
DVD EXTRAS: Most of the deleted scenes don't add much to the movie and they were obiviously cut for pacing reasons, but
two interesting scenes including Hondo's original intro foreshadow what one character does later in the movie. Too bad
there were a play all option and commentary on the deleted scenes. The gag reel is really funny. The
director even makes an appearnce in the gag reel, and you see Colin Farrell drinking, smoking, and working out to the theme
song of S.W.A.T.!
The four behind-the-scenes featurettes really give some info on the making of the movie from pre-production to post-production.
The 6th Street Bridge featurette shows how they showed flight simulator software to make a CGI plane landing look more realistic.
Anatomy of a Shootout tells the story of how the first scene in the movie was filmed and where it was filmed (and how they
lucked out) Director Clark Johnson uses the trick of speeding up the camera to create the news footage sene in the beginning
of the movie.
The next featurette is "The Making of S.W.A.T." goes into detail of who they cast (with each actor and other people describing
the characters), footage of S.W.A.T. and former S.W.A.T. advising during the filming, some training footage of the actors
going through S.W.A.T. school, and a talk about the weapons and equipment S.W.A.T. uses. Also there is a feature about the
original TV series that the movie is based on with footage from the TV show, actors (from the movie and TV show) praising
the show, and the reason why the show only lasted 39 episodes despite being a very popular show.
The Sound & Fury of S.W.A.T. looks into how the sounds of the guns and other sounds were made for the movie, a look
at the seperate elements in the sound of 4 scenes and a how all the sounds play together, and short featurettes on the weapons
used by the real S.W.A.T. including a demo of each weapon.
Now I come to the commentaries. The commentary by some of the cast members (L.L. Cool J, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner,
and Michelle Rodriguez) and director Clark Johnson is obviously two commentries edited together (cast and director commentaries)
isn't the best to listen to despite some of the production info given by Clark Johnson.
The best commentary has to be the writers commentary with the four credited screenwriters (Ron Mita, Jim McClain, David
Ayer, and David McKenna). This commentray is rather fun and funny as the screenwriters relate stories on screenwriting, the
various drafts of the scripts (they originally focused on Hondo more and once had to write it as a role to attract Arnold
Schwarzenegger), wondering who is feeding Street's dog since he is never home, and that S.W.A.T. is only a movie. I
suggest you skip the cast and director commentary, and listen to the writers commentary instead.
S.W.A.T. is a good special edition DVD that Columbia pictures has put out. The movie makes me want to check out the TV
show (the first season is out on DVD), and maybe Columbia is hoping the DVD of the movie will boost sales of S.W.A.T.- THE
COMPLETE FIRST SEASON DVD set. some fans of the TV show might nitpick what the writers do to one of the TV characters in the
It is a miracle that S.WA.T got made since the movie has been development since 1996 and actually be any good since eight
writers were involved in writing the movie's script in total (with all the Various rewrites and production re-writes). Hats
off to Columbia for getting the movie released on DVD in time for New year's Eve. Enjoy and remember that S.W.A.T. is just
a movie where you like it or not.
this review is (c02003 David Blackwell. This review can't be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and look for site updates (and added content) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia