S.W.A.T.: Firefight isn’t a great movie by any stretch and in fact has a simple story, but for what it is and for my own expectations going in, I thought it was entertaining enough. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s worth shelling out $25+ for this release but it may be worth the cost of a 1-night rental.
Genre(s): Action, Suspense/Thriller
Sony | R – 89 min. – $30.95 | March 1, 2011
Directed by: Benny Boom
Writer(s): Reed Steiner and Randy Walker & Mike Albanese & Ed Arneson (story), Reed Steiner (screenplay)
Cast: Gabriel Macht, Robert Patrick, Carly Pope, Giancarlo Esposito, Kristanna Loken
Features: Featurette, BD-Live
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
The old direct-to-video sequel is the cheap route studios like to go to do a quick and neat cash-in based solely on the name. Sometimes they merely recast the characters or do a prequel making them younger (Dukes of Hazard) but often it’s a sequel-in-name-only (or SINO). Sony has been the king of doing this in the past with such gems as Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough and subsequent sequels and now we have S.W.A.T.: Firefight, a film that shares little in common, save for the acronym, with the original that starred Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez amongst others.
This edition centers on LAPD SWAT team leader Paul Cutler (GABRIEL MACHT) who in typical, albeit smart, screenwriting formula, we meet as the opening credits roll showcasing his talents for talking down hostage-takers, making quick decisions and taking down the bad guy and saving the hostages all within minutes. Cutler does this after a drug dealer takes a household of party-kids hostage; he gets a pat on the back with his commander and offers up the opportunity to go to Detroit to train their SWAT team and bring them up to Federal terrorism code (or something along those lines). At first Cutler is miffed at the offer as others were offered cushier locations (one was Hawaii another in Miami) but he takes the job.
Soon enough – after some basic exposition where we learn from his ex-girlfriend that he’s obsessed with his job – Cutler is in Detroit taking in the more, well, “scenic” areas that look like downtown Iraq before going into the better looking neighborhoods and the nice-looking police headquarters. He’s greeted by Inspector Hollander (GIANCARLO ESPOSITO) who is in charge of Detroit’s SWAT squad and after some bickering and fighting, Cutler gets to work meeting the crew and finding out what they are made of as they have two weeks to get certified.
After an introductory course, the team gets a call to an office building where a man is holding his ex-girlfriend hostage. They flawlessly make entry after Cutler determines the suspect cannot be calmed down but things go sideways when the girl, Rose Walker (KRISTANNA LOKEN), in fear of the man, Walter Hatch (ROBERT PATRICK), kills herself after SWAT tried to save him. Well, Mr. Hatch was mortified by this and promised revenge for what has happened. But, he’s going to jail, right? Well, Hatch manages to post the $1 million bond thanks to overcrowding and Cutler later learns from police psychologist, and obvious love interest, Kim Byers (CARLY POPE) that she was the one that held him hostage and there was little they could do to hold him.
Flash forward after some testosterone competition between Cutler and another SWAT team member, the plot gets into full gear when Hatch sets his plans for revenge into motion. He steals the SWAT playbook, taunts and makes threats over the phone, plants bombs and just make sure he’s as menacing as he could be before going after the team one by one before making a move on Cutler. Now it’s mano-e-mano for supreme manliness… a la a fight to the death.
S.W.A.T.: Firefight, as a direct-to-video affair, isn’t all that bad thanks in small part to the cast. For his part, Gabriel Macht does a good job as the group leader having the right amount of charisma and toughness while Robert Patrick is, well, Robert Patrick. I guess he’s the go-to actor for the low-budget action flick (see: The Marine) and he fills in the villain role well enough although it’s not a character I quite grasped as he’s some sort of government black ops agent who’s also love stricken yet this was not a comedy…
We also get a half-decent supporting cast that includes the lovely Carly Pope (Two for the Money) as the love interest, the hopefully on-the-rise Shannon Kane (Brooklyn’s Finest) as a sexy military specialist and a very brief appearance by Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3) in a very limited role, so much I’m not sure why they cast her as she doesn’t add that much depth or importance to the scene (unlike Liam Neeson in The Next Three Days).
The film was directed by Benny Boom who also helmed a crime-comedy called Next Day Air and here for what I assume was a limited budget, does well enough with the action sequences even if it’s nothing spectacular or memorable.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1/5
The only features we get are Sharp Shooting: On the Set (8:43; HD) featurette and a BD-Live portal. The disc also contains previews for Sniper: Reloaded, Faster and The Hit List, Quarantine 2: Terminal.
VIDEO – 4/5
Presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio, S.W.A.T.: Firefight comes to Blu-ray in 1080p high-definition that looks good, albeit it’s nothing special. The detail level isn’t overly sharp but still decent. It’s not a great picture by any stretch but given the production budget, which I assume was limited, it’s much better than I had anticipated.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
Similarly, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track provides for a good if not unspectacular aural experience. Dialogue levels are clear while the action scenes, for which there are several, are a tad soft to my ears yet effective enough.
OVERALL – 3/5
Overall, S.W.A.T.: Firefight isn’t a great movie by any stretch and in fact has a simple story, but for what it is and for my own expectations going in, I thought it was entertaining enough. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s worth shelling out $25+ for this release but it may be worth the cost of a 1-night rental. The Blu-ray has fairly average picture and video (compared with other new releases) and a forgettable feature.