In recent years there has been something of an expectation that no movie can be left alone, whether it garners high success or is even practically laughed out of the box office. Either way, it’s a sure bet that it’s going to get a sequel, which tends to be most unfortunate – especially for the latter. The direct-to-video, or direct-to-DVD, market has become quite notorious for releasing sequels to movies that may not have garnered the success for them or could have even stood alone. Sometimes there just doesn’t need to be a franchise. Granted, there have been a handful of decent direct-to-video sequel releases that really weren’t -that- bad, but more often than not you’ll get something that also manages to be not -that- good.
An expert in anti-terrorism tactics, hotshot LAPD officer Paul Cutler (GABRIEL MACHT, Behind Enemy Lines) is ordered to Detroit to train its S.W.A.T. team in the latest hostage rescue techniques. But everything changes when their botched response to a domestic dispute ends with a hostage down and a government assassin (ROBERT PATRICK, Terminator 2) now obsessed with terminating Cutler as well as his entire S.W.A.T. team.
There seems to be a slight bit of ambiguity as to whether this is a sequel to the Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson action flick “S.W.A.T” from 2003, since absolutely nothing has to do with anything that happened with that movie. However, what seems to be the theme song is listed during the credits as “S.W.A.T 2,” and the opening features familiar bits of the TV show’s theme song, which the 2003 movie was an adaptation of. Obviously it is simply another cheap direct-to-video sequel to a movie that didn’t necessarily need one, but I just find it most peculiar since the only connection between it and the previous movie are the titular career choice and the location at the start. The most interesting thing about this, though, is simply that the movie seems to have very little to actually do with S.W.A.T in general. It’s a bit more along the lines that someone couldn’t sell their suspense thriller story and had to be melded to an existing due-to-be-sequeled movie to make someone interested.
The one thing that most prominently bugged me about this movie is that none of the characters were ever interesting. The main character, Paul Cutler (Gabrial Macht), takes no time in easily being summed up as nothing more than a Mary Sue as he seems to not only be an elite in the world of S.W.A.T but even has an ex-girlfriend that doesn’t want him, but is totally willing to have sex with him. Furthermore he apparently knows everything and his only fault is that he loves the job too much. The rest of the cast are just as cliché as their introduction in which they immediately give the cold shoulder to the new guy, which I can only imagine would be a major no-no when the new guy is attempting to HELP your unit improve in being more efficient at saving lives. As per usual, there is the one, Officer Kellogg (Nicholas Gonzalez,) that won’t take orders from his superior for no reason in particular other than to be a cliché and he’s eventually cast out from the group. This actually seemed like an exact plot pattern copied from the original movie with Gamble, but it seems that it was cast aside and that subplot’s eventual conclusion is wrapped up in a way that even the actor didn’t seem to care for.
The actual story of the movie was actually surprisingly original and the production values were very surprising from what I was expecting, but the movie loses its credibility in acting, directing and writing as far characters and dialogue goes. Some of the dialogue was downright confusing such as Paul Cutler insisting speed in getting a shot off was more important than accuracy was more important for people that would be dealing with situations that involve people taking hostages, and sex kitten cliché Kim Byers (Carly Pope) scorning a sniper for not calculating for weight, implying drop was the problem, when he shot ABOVE the target. Sadly, it wasn’t even limited to those two examples, which makes me curious if anyone was really paying attention to the script and what they thought would be “cool.”
Overall, I watched this expecting to enjoy it as nothing more than a guilty pleasure action flick full of guns, explosions and basic characters. What I ended up finding was a poor attempt at an action flick which failed to feature anything really exciting, and a poor attempt at a suspense thriller that had no idea how to build suspense. The characters were as basic as you could get with each one being the definition of a cliché, and yet with nothing to expand on that. I can’t even remember if any of them aside from Paul Cutler and the villain, Walter Hatch (Robert Patrick), were given any hint of backstory. I want to suggest this for a Rental, but there’s very little that even makes that worthwhile. It’s simply forgettable so feel free to just Skip It altogether.
S.W.A.T. – Firefight finds a home in a standard disc Elite Blu-ray case with a standard Blu-ray housing the lone disc inside. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and well…that’s it, really. It’s a pretty straightforward set and the beginnings of a very, very barebones release.
Moving onto the AVC encoded 1080p 2.40:1 transfer we get the usual flawless presentation out of Sony. The majority of the film oozes detail out of all of the frames, boasting plenty of detail in the myriad of sequences; whether its nighttime sequences or daytime, there is plenty to look at as it spreads across your TV. The audio, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, is similarly expansive with it starting out quiet at first while our characters and story get established, all the while incorporating gunfire and all the explosive audio you’d expect from a movie like this.
Extras? Well Sony saw only a need for Sharp Shooting: On the Set extra to toss on here and considering how disappointing this movie was, I can’t say I blame them for only putting this on here. It’s a basic EPK style fluff piece, but it’s something to look at if you enjoyed the film for some reason. As with the film, this is a disc you can Skip.
S.W.A.T. – Firefight arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on March 1st.
Film review by Andrew
Blu-ray review by Zach Demeter