Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 183: SWAT (2003)

PG-13, 1 hr. 57 min.  Directed by: Clark Johnson.  Release Date: August 8, 2003.  DVD Release Date: December 30, 2003.

I own this, but I haven't watched it in awhile.  It was part of a mass purchase I did in what must have been the end of 2004, when I was liking everything Collin Farrell was doing so I just broke down and bought all those movies he was in between 2002 and 2004... I even had a copy of Daredevil running around, although I think I've hidden it so it won't remind me that I bought it.

There are a few things that I either hadn't noticed or didn't remember about this movie makes it relatively unique in the action movie genre.  The characters are real.  Not like real cops, but there's a depth to their development during the course of the story that makes me think they could be real people.  They're not something that was created using some tool like a D&D character sheet, they're not cheap caricatures of a "type" of person.  I was surprised not to see the stereotyped Irish cop, although I guess you could make the argument that Farrell is supposed to be that.  He does fit some of that stereotype, but only some, and his character was, I thought, the closest to being a carbon copy of other cop characters.

This also had a plot.  It wasn't a terribly strong plot.  I would never have held my breath for this movie in 2004, but it was a story that I could not only follow, but that actually made sense.  It supported the characters and provided a vehicle by which I, as the audience, could empathize with and enjoy the characters and the job they were doing.  I've only known a couple of police officers in my time, and I've never known someone who worked SWAT, so that empathy was required in my case, otherwise this would have read more like fantasy than reality.

The final thing I noticed was the stunt work.  It was unlikely, but still well within the realm of human endurance.  It wasn't like... I think it's Mission Impossible III, where an aging Tom Cruise gets a face full of explosion, gets slammed into a car, dusts himself off immediately and starts tearing down the road as if nothing had happened.  What happened to the bruises, the thrown-out back, the realistic response by the aging body to that kind of abuse?  These stunts were more mundane, and I think the filmmakers tried very hard to keep them to the kind of thing SWAT officers might have to do while in action.

Surprisingly good is probably my final summary.  I've heard some complaints from older folks who liked the TV show.  I've seen a few episodes of the old SWAT TV show on cable, and I'm suggesting the old dogs learn some new tricks, because this is totally worth watching as a standalone or as a follow up to the show.  I wouldn't even mind sequels if they could maintain this quality.