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S.W.A.T. Superbit

S.W.A.T. the Superbit Edition on DVD

When a trailer can take a movie with not much action and make it look like an action-packed thrill ride, whoever put the trailer together deserves both kudos and a smack.

We went into S.W.A.T. expecting plenty of action from start to finish, but what we got was an “action” movie all about tactics and procedure. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with that, but we object to being misled.

S.W.A.T. could probably still be considered an action movie, but only by default. There’s really no other genre in which it could effectively be classified, and there are a few hardcore action scenes in it.

It opens with the Los Angeles S.W.A.T. team infiltrating a bank that has been taken hostage by armed robbers. They manage to foil the robbery, but one of the hostages gets shot, albeit in a non-critical area. The two partners (Colin Farrell and Jeremy Renner) are yelled at, one gets kicked off the force altogether, and the other is bumped down to almost nothing.

But when wisecracking Sgt. Hondo (Samuel L. Jackson minus the usual intensity) comes back to recruit a S.W.A.T. team of young, hip, ass-kickers, Jim Street (Farrell) is back in, as well as Deke Kaye (LL Cool J) and Chris Sanchez (Michelle Rodriguez). The training begins, but when a drug kingpin offers $100 million to anyone who gets him out of jail, they’re thrust into action sooner than expected.

Despite the fact that there’s not nearly as much action as it promises, S.W.A.T. still manages to be a thoroughly enjoyable romp. It has a great cast that all fit their roles to a T, and the lack of action is made up for by the other elements. Director Clark Johnson wanted a more realistic action movie, so the characters all act as they likely would in real life situations, instead of just barging into every scenario with guns blazing and leaving with explosions following. It’s a nice change, but it’s also not as exciting as a good old-fashioned car chase.

There's just no pleasing some people, is there?

S.W.A.T. is a bit different, so go in with an open mind and don’t worry: the really good stuff will start soon and make it worthwhile.

Part of the latest line of Superbit titles, S.W.A.T. is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts audio tracks. Picture quality is excellent, with great color and detail. There’s always plenty going on, and you never have any trouble seeing it all. Although it’s hard to notice any differences from the video quality on the original DVD, the Superbit version is subtly better.

Audio is also excellent, with aggressive front channels and a rumbling subwoofer. The most obvious surround use occurs during the action scenes, in which you’re brought right into the onscreen action. Bullets fly and tactical shouts seem to come from inside the room. Scenes with airplanes or helicopters are done very well, almost making you wonder whether or not the respective vehicle is in the movie or outside in your yard. Oftentimes, the surrounds seem a little quiet, but you soon realize their just waiting until something even more exciting happens. This is one of the few instances where the Dolby Digital track seems to outdo the dts one, which comes across as a bit quieter and less aggressive.

As with most Superbit titles, this is the version to purchase if you don’t already own the movie and don’t care about extras.

S.W.A.T., from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
117 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1 & dts
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriquez, LL Cool J, Brian Van Holt, Jeremy Renner, Josh Charles and Olivier Martinez
Produced by Neal H. Moritz, Dan Halsted, Chris Lee
Screenplay by David Ayer and David McKenna, Directed by Clark Johnson


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