To steal the slogan found on the riot shields of a particular S.W.A.T. team: this is gonna hurt...
Seven and a half years. It's taken me that long to forget the foul taste put in my mouth by the original 'S.W.A.T.,' which is, coincidentally, how old the film is now. Much like 'Cats & Dogs,' it was a film franchise that didn't have any demand for a return to the well, let alone one that has absolutely nothing to do with the original, whatsoever. Nothing. No carried over characters, locations, or themes. This sequel in name alone doesn't hurt the franchise value, as that would be beating a dead, bloated horse, but it sure doesn't instill confidence in the men and women who greenlit this production.
This film didn't need to use the 'S.W.A.T.' moniker, but it instead wants to tap an existing audience, as the financially successful (how?!) first movie wasn't properly run into the ground soon enough. Tsk-tsk, Sony. So, when this disc came into my possession, I glanced at the back cover, and, ignoring the blurbs (which are ridiculous, may I add), focused on the plot recap: "An expert in anti-terrorism tactics, hotshot LAPD officer Paul Cutler 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 now obsessed with terminating Cutler as well as his entire S.W.A.T. team."
Why did I just repeat that, word for word (save for the actor name mentions, which I'll get to shortly)? Because at first glance, it makes no sense. After watching the film, it still makes no sense, and it twists the truth, as the "domestic dispute" is actually a call to report a hostage being taken. Yeah, that's not exactly normal domestic dispute territory, folks. So why is the government assassin out to take down the Chicago Bears quarterback, when this film takes place in Detroit?! Oops, Paul, not Jay. My bad on the name confusion, but it opens a valid point: the film is as much a quitter as Cutler was in the NFC championship game. At some point, you only wish the film gets replaced the same way the QB did. Heck, if this film, forty minutes in, would have been interrupted, and the remaining time was spent instead showing random YouTube clips, like a dramatic animal, a deep voiced guy who isn't in rehab, a baby panda, and perhaps even some epic music, it would have been an improvement.
There is no reason for 'S.W.A.T.: Firefight' to exist. The characters are very one dimensional and boring. Plot points pop up and disappear for no reason. The script is nonsensical rubbish. The action sequences lack any emotion or meaning; they're just there to take up space and try to keep people with the film. The villain? Robert Patrick is long past the day when he could play an effective villain, apparently, since he's one of the biggest distractions in the film. Overacting, then not giving a damn, with stiff body language the few times he has any, he's just there to collect a paycheck, there so that the back cover can mention 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day.'
The heroes? Man, oh man, is this a gigantic cluster fuck. First there's Gabriel Macht as the non-footballing Cutler. You may remember Macht from 'The Spirit,' or you may not even know he exists. Either way, he's a pretty boy, one note character who is as convincing as Gabourey Sibide playing an anorexic. His S.W.A.T. experience seems like a joke, and his training is beyond stupid. He teaches his "students" in the Detroit S.W.A.T. that accuracy isn't all that important...when sniping. Yeah, that makes tons of sense there, pal. The Detroit crew he trains are all throwaway characters, who make for good bullet sponges, but nothing else. See, if they were actually developed instead of having to play "guy who likes food," "guy who is arrogant and cocky," "guy who smokes," "guy who is big," and "that other guy," then we'd actually care that they're put into danger. But, no. Let's not forget there's a female on the cover, because there were some female S.W.A.T. members in the first film! Shannon Kane plays our random "hot chick" hot shot member, though she fits about as well as O.J.'s bloody glove...
The film is problematic for more reasons than the characters and actors, though. The whole script bites pretty hard, too. The entire opening to the film feels poorly pieced together, with no credence to the scope of the film, just randomly thrown together scenes to try to establish a main character whose path doesn't exactly follow a logical route. He turns down quick and easy sex in the intro to the film...then goes for it later, with his obvious animal magnetism? Oh, wait, the reason he gets a girl later in the film is because she encounters the villainous Hatch when she profiles him, and she becomes a target. Wow, that's gotta create some tension, the girl he shtooped on the first date may die, and his penis is the cause! And it's not even because of Hepatitus! Lame. Wait, this film also has Kristanna Loken, aka the Terminatrix? Is she this hard up for film roles? Oh, right, 'Bloodrayne,' I tried to forget...
'S.W.A.T.: Firefight' is not a good movie. I hope I've made that much clear. It's amateurish in every way, from direction to script to acting. There are a few fun shots, like the FPS moments, and the camera attached to a battering ram, but the majority of the film is a by the numbers exercise in trying to make a quick buck. The story is a complete nonsensical nightmare. It makes less sense than Kristanna Loken baring all in a Uwe Boll film. Shoot, did I forget to make fun of the horrible dialogue in the yet? Eh, sorry about that, just imagine some pretty lame puns relating to cops and sex, as apparently no Detroit S.W.A.T. member ever had a female coworker, and that about covers that. This is a disaster of a film. It follows a disaster of a film, only, it does so far too late in the game to even find its way to store shelves. Films like this exist on disc, it seems, solely for the write off. Speaking of, if you were interested in this release, be sure you write it off your list. That pun right there was ten times more intelligent than anything in this film, and it literally hurt me to have to type it. That should say something about the quality writing found within.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'S.W.A.T.: Firefight' comes to Blu-ray on a BD50 Dual Layer disc that is Region A/B. Sorry, Russia, you can't feel our pain. There is a ton of pre-menu content (a Sony titles on Blu-ray promo, and trailers for 'Sniper: Reloaded,' 'Faster,' 'The Hit List,' 'Quarantine 2: Terminal,' and 'El/Mariachi/Desperado/Once Upon a Time in Mexico'), none of which are skippable through top menu. In other words, you have to press next chapter a whopping six times. The menu itself is full video, with an audio loop that doesn't cut out.
The 1.78:1 framed 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode given to 'S.W.A.T.: Firefight' is interesting, a bit uneven, but sometimes pretty solid. Frustrating may be a good word, considering potential versus actual.
The opening of the film is a good example of what to expect. You see a superb establishing shot, and it's like, "wow, that looks great!" Then there's another, and it's almost as sharp and deep, which inspires confidence...then there's a third shot and it looks like absolute shit, muddy, murky, and all sorts of ugly. Skies tell another story, sometimes normal, other times blown out, and then, other times still overly blue, like a cartoon. There is just no real continuity, no consistency, and delving depths for every aspiring peak.
Bright colors are countered by unusually dark faces (when they aren't orangey instead, let's not forget that!). Textures can be amazingly crisp and realistic, then flat and cartoonish. Whites are blown out, while blacks layer nicely in day shots in S.W.A.T. uniforms (night shots, of course, look like a blob). Noise isn't an issue, until the end of the film, despite some moments that would normally prove to be a breeding ground, but some light bands and artifacts make up for that.
The clincher? How about the random, short shots that are of such low grade quality that they'd hardly pass for SD? I counted at least five moments in the film (including an overhead shot at 22:02, another one at 25:57 and again ten seconds later, as well as a few in the 46 minute mark and again at the 53:21 shot of Hatch) that were just dismal, blocky, and undefined. Hooray for quality control! When at its best, this disc looks pretty damn good, with great detail levels and realism, but those bad moments just kill the experience of watching this film, as they're just too hard to miss.
Unimpressive. Very unimpressive. 'S.W.A.T.: Firefight' on Blu-ray delivers a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that fails to pack any kind of punch, making for a fairly dull listening session. Dialogue has no problems, but is also no frills, locating solely in front channels. Rears get some nice localization from choppers early, and gunfire and debris as the film moves on, but gunfire, a big element of action films of this sort, lacks any power, any "oomph," where nearly any kind of weapon sounds the same. Explosions are weak, as well. There is some light bass, but it's nowhere near what one would expect considering how many obvious moments in this film go without any rumble or thump. Ambience levels are random, sometimes non-existent, and the soundtrack, while it hits all angles, lacks any strength, coming in dead on arrival. With the heavy, hard music, the explosions, the frantic yelling, and the ridiculous amounts of gunfire in this film, you'd expect something loud, in your face, and powerful. Instead, you get something that is on par with an episode of 'Full House' in terms of strength, and not even an episode with Jesse and the Rippers.
There is a Previews option in the extras portion of the menu, but thanks to Sony not allowing people who legitimately purchase or rent their discs to skip advertisements as a whole, you already saw them. To add insult to injury, these trailers all play in a row, not selectable individually. How lame is that?! How many people want to see the exact same trailers they had to manually skip over, again?
I hated this film. I hate having to call it a film. It's not. It's really some of the worst acted, worst written, worst directed garbage that I've had to see in some time. 'Ticking Clock' suddenly seems coherent and entertaining. That should not happen. This Blu-ray release has its moments, but it falls victim to the same kind of laziness and random poor quality that plagues the film for an entire hour and a half. I understand some people still try to buy every Blu-ray that hits the market, but, seriously, send a message. Don't buy this one. Don't rent it. Not even for the epic disc versus shredder battle. Take whatever money you would have spent to see this, and instead buy a Kung Zhu or regular ZhuZhu Pet, and give it to a child less fortunate. I really wish Sony would have taken the budget for this film and done something similar.