• S.W.A.T. Firefight

    Released By: Sony Pictures
    Released On: 03/01/2011
    Director: Benny Boom
    Cast: Gabriel Macht, Robert Patrick

    The Film:

    In my world, the pitch meeting for S.W.A.T. Firefight went something like this: “We’re going to make a movie! It’s going to be a sequel to the action flick S.W.A.T! Instead of having a good plot and some interesting characters, we’ll make it like a video game! It’ll have loud video game music, and lots of camera angles that make it look like a video game! Stuff will blow up like a video game! Kids will buy it, because it’s like a video game! We’ve got this great director, his name is Benny BOOM! He makes music videos for rap artists! Kids love rap artists! This is going to be HUGE!”

    That might be a slight exaggeration. But when you check out the straight to video mess that is S.W.A.T. Firefight, it’s a perfectly plausible scenario; Reed Steiner, seemingly taking a break from writing episodes of NCIS, and Director Benny Boom, he of Scarface: Origins of a Hip-Hop Classic fame, have dropped one of the most flaccid, watery bombshells committed to film in recent memory.

    Kicking off with a Los Angeles house party, a group of teens have their beers, bong-loads and bikini-removing fun interrupted by a group of gun-wielding drug guys, irked that they haven’t received payment from the host of the party. For whatever reason, they leave him in the main room of the house with an automatic weapon to wait for the S.W.A.T. team to arrive, led by Paul Cutler (Gabriel Macht). After devising a strategy based on throwing a bunch of cool technical terms around, the team successfully takes out the perps, and Cutler is rewarded by being sent to Detroit to train the local S.W.A.T. guys in the ways of Homeland Security’s Terror Preparedness and Hostage situation standards. As one would expect, the Detroit team are a little lax in their effectiveness, smoking, drinking, and eating waffle sandwiches on the job.

    After a montage of training clips in which Cutler brings the boys up to speed, they encounter a hostage situation involving a man named Walter Hatch (Robert Patrick) who apparently has an ex-girlfriend named Rose cornered in her office with a gun. The team manage to apprehend Hatch after a ridiculous lead-up involving cell phones duct taped to office chairs, but Rose turns the gun on herself after inferring that Hatch might be more dangerous than he seems. Vowing revenge on all of them, Hatch is led away to jail, but makes bail 24 hours later, and begins to stalk Cutler and his new girlfriend who he’s met, slept with, and became romantically involved with in the space of about 4 minutes. Cutler has to get to Hatch, who is revealed to be some kind of Black Ops government asset, save his girlfriend, and also the girl that he replaced one insubordinate from his team with, a girl that he was in Iraq with, and then……well, who cares?

    It’s almost like Steiner made flash cards with the plot devices of a bunch of films that he liked, threw them into a blender and then chopped the mess down to run in a two-part television series. Any kind of danger to the S.W.A.T. team comes off as laughable, because nobody cares about the S.W.A.T. team. Paul Cutler is not a likable character, nor does he have any qualities that inspire empathy. This is not the fault of Gabriel Macht, because NONE of the players are given any more character development than you would expect in a low-rent porn film. Robert Patrick is very good as always, but he can only be as good as the source material. The plot has holes that you could drive an armoured personnel carrier through, and the script seems to be made up of a series of “cool” action scenes and some horrendous dialogue that may redefine cliché.

    The only thing more laughable than Steiner’s script is the direction. The term “MTV editing” gets thrown around so much these days, it’s lost meaning; Benny Boom, who has in fact made a name for himself directing hip-hop videos and that piece of tripe documentary on the Scarface DVD, brings it all back home again in the most jaw-dropping, tear-inducing manner imaginable. Action sequences are saturated with “gun cam”, giving every firefight a first-person shooter video game look, some scenes are filmed so quickly that it’s (thankfully) impossible to see what’s going on, and he’s actually put together (though this may be the fault of editing) TWO slow-mo “we have guns and we’re looking around because we’re awesome” sequences. Throw in the dramatic score, and you have Call of Duty, Killzone, whatever, a film made as a video game.

    S.W.A.T. was not a fantastic film by any stretch of the imagination, but it was entertaining and that’s more than can be said about most films, including this one. S.W.A.T. Firefight is hopefully enough of a kick to send Reed Steiner back to the land of television and Benny Boom back to his music videos; formats where their short attention span inspired visions won’t be pounded into feature-film lengths.


    Sony presents S.W.A.T. Firefight in a 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio and a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack. The picture looks very sharp for the most part, though some of the material is intended to look gritty, shaky, and contrasty. The 5.1 track makes good use of the surrounds, and the dialogue, effects, and score are well-balanced and free of noise.

    There are two options found under the Special Features menu; first up is a trailer reel for other Sony titles. The second option is Sharp Shooting: On The Set, a feature that runs approximately 9 minutes. This featurette contains interviews with the cast and crew, concerning topics such as location, weapons and tactics training, and working with the actors. Interestingly enough, Boom talks about how much he loved the script because he wanted to do a “character-driven” film, which S.W.A.T Firefight most definitely is not.

    The Final Word:

    This Sony blu-ray is a solid presentation of a film that definitely does not deserve a solid presentation. S.W.A.T. Firefight can’t even be recommended for fans of mindless action films.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Steve gave this 1/4 paws for a shotgun-inspired backflip and a pretty rad headshot. But that was about it. Each was worth half a paw, according to Steve.