Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Clark Johnson|
|Produced by||Dan Halsted
Neal H. Moritz
|Screenplay by||David Ayer
|Story by||Ron Mita
George Huang (Uncredited)
Lem Dobbs (Uncredited)
Chris Morgan (Uncredited)
Craig Fernandez (Uncredited)
|Starring||Samuel L. Jackson
LL Cool J
Brian Van Holt
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Editing by||Michael Tronick|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||117 minutes|
S.W.A.T. is a 2003 American action-crime-thriller film directed by Clark Johnson, and is based on the 1975 television series of the same name. It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J. It was produced by Neal H. Moritz and released in the United States on August 8, 2003.
Officer Jim Street (Colin Farrell), a former U.S. Navy SEAL and hot-shot cop from the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.) and his S.W.A.T. team are sent to stop a gang of robbers who have taken over a bank. His high-tempered partner and close friend Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner) disobeys an order to not fire on the bank robbers, and accidentally wounds a hostage in the process. Gamble and Street are demoted by Captain Fuller (Larry Poindexter), the commander of the department's Metropolitan Division, who is portrayed as a "fussy martinet". Gamble quits following the argument with Fuller, and Street is taken off the S.W.A.T. team and sent to work in the "gun cage", where he looks after the gear and weaponry.
Six months after the incident, the chief of police calls on Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson) to help re-organize the S.W.A.T. division. Hondo puts together a diverse team, including himself, Street, Chris Sánchez (Michelle Rodriguez), Deacon Kaye (LL Cool J), TJ McCabe (Josh Charles), and Michael Boxer (Brian Van Holt). The team members train together, eventually forging bonds of friendship. As a result, their first mission to subdue an unstable gunman is a success.
Meanwhile, French drug lord Alexander Montel (Olivier Martinez) arrives in L.A. and goes to a local restaurant to kill his uncle for holding back the family money from him. While driving to the airport, Uniformed L.A.P.D. personnel stop Montel for a broken taillight and later detain him to get a full positive I.D. on him; learning through Interpol that he is an international fugitive wanted in over a dozen countries. But as Montel is being transferred to prison, his associates, dressed as L.A.P.D. officers, attempt to rescue him as he rides the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department bus. Hondo's S.W.A.T. team arrives in time to kill the two gunmen and recapture Alexander. As the S.W.A.T. team approaches the police station, reporters crowd around them, prompting Montel to yell to the cameras that he would "give 100 million dollars to whoever gets [him] out of here".
The L.A.P.D. makes plans to transfer Montel into federal custody. They initially plan for travel by air, but a mysterious attacker (it is later revealed to be Gamble) shoots down the helicopter with a high-powered rifle. The police next send out a large convoy, which gang members attack and discover to be a decoy, at the same time as Hondo's team is spiriting Montel away in two SUVs. However, while driving Montel into federal custody, TJ had been plotting with Gamble, and the two succeed in taking Montel from the other officers, critically wounding Boxer in the process. Hondo and the rest of his team give chase for a final battle against Gamble's group. Fuller later informs them that Gamble intends to fly Montel out of the United States. Fuller dispatches every officer to an airport to prevent the escape. As Hondo and his S.W.A.T. team race across town, they observe a plane flying at lower than normal altitudes and deduce correctly that the plane is the one expected by Gamble. They decide to go after the plane, as available unit is at the airport and won't make it in time. Before Gamble's group can take off, the team intercedes, and a gun battle ensues, killing Gamble's remaining thugs. TJ commits suicide out of remorse for his betrayal of the team and to avoid being captured. Street pursues and inadvertently kills Gamble by knocking him under the wheels of a passing train, decapitating him. Fuller and the rest of the L.A.P.D arrive to take care of everything else. Fuller thanks Hondo and his team for their success but tells them the job wasn't finish as Montel was still there, not in federal custody. Hondo and his team deliver Montel to a federal prison to await trial. On the way home to L.A., a report of a holdup in progress comes over the police radio and despite the team being two officers down and off shift for the past twelve hours, Hondo, Street, Kaye, and Sanchez decide to help anyway.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Sergeant Second Grade Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson, He is brought back by the Chief of Police to head a new S.W.A.T. Element. He is a retired U.S. Recon Marine. He uses both an M4A1 and MP5A2, and personally upgraded the trigger of the M4A1 that he uses. His call sign is 70-David.
- Colin Farrell as Police Officer Third Grade Jim Street. He is originally assigned to S.W.A.T., but after an incident with his partner he is removed from the team and placed in the "gun cage." After Hondo sees his abilities and knowledge of special tactics firsthand, he is recruited for the new S.W.A.T. team. He is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and explosives expert. Street uses an M4A1 and a Kimber Custom TLE II pistol on S.W.A.T. missions.
- Michelle Rodriguez as Police Officer Third Grade Christina "Chris" Sanchez, was a frequent applicant to S.W.A.T., who was rejected each time due to the captain's sexism. Hondo persuades him to allow her to be on his team. She carries an MP5 on S.W.A.T. calls. Her callsign is 73-David. She has a daughter named Eliza.
- LL Cool J as Police Officer Third Grade Deacon "Deke" Kaye, is a Patrol officer whom Hondo also recruits. In the S.W.A.T. team, he is armed with a Benelli M3 Super 90 shotgun and later Hondo's MP5, and serves as the rear-guard of the team. He is a father of two.
- Josh Charles as Police Officer Third Grade T.J. McCabe, is a member of S.W.A.T. who initially has problems with Street and served with Hondo before. He also plots with Gamble to free Alex Montel from police custody.
- Jeremy Renner as former Police Officer Third Grade Brian Gamble, Street's former partner. He quit the L.A.P.D. after being demoted. He plots to free Montel from police custody.
- Brian Van Holt as Police Officer Third Grade Michael Boxer is a S.W.A.T. officer who has worked with Hondo before. His sister was involved with Street and broke up with him after he was transferred to the gun cage. He is armed with a M4A1.
- Olivier Martinez as Alexander "Alex" Montel, a French criminal. His family controls a huge drug empire which values into the billions.
- Ken Davitian as Martin Gascoigne, an Italian L.A.-based drug trafficker who is Montel's uncle. Gascoigne operates from the Figaro Cafè in Downtown L.A.
- Reg E. Cathey as Lieutenant Second Grade Greg Velasquez, is field commander of D Platoon (S.W.A.T.) and one of Hondo's old friends. His call sign is 10-David.
- Larry Poindexter as Captain Thomas Fuller, is Commander of Metropolitan Division (Home of the L.A.P.D. S.W.A.T.) D Platoon; some of the officers hated him. His call sign is R-commander.
- Page Kennedy as Travis
- Domenick Lombardozzi as GQ
- James DuMont as Gus
Original series actors Steve Forrest and Rod Perry make cameo appearances as well. Steve drives the team's van while Perry, who played Deacon Kay, serves as Kaye's father.
Michael Bay, Rob Cohen, Antoine Fuqua, Michael Mann, Joel Schumacher, Tony Scott, Zack Snyder, Roger Spottiswoode and John Woo were all approached to direct the movie before Clark Johnson signed on. They passed because they were all busy with other projects.
Mark Wahlberg was the first choice for the role of Jim Street, but turned it down. Paul Walker was originally cast and had even started training for the part, but had to drop out due to filming on 2 Fast 2 Furious. Colin Farrell eventually replaced him. Vin Diesel was offered to play Deacon "Deke" Kaye, but passed because he was in production with The Chronicles of Riddick and LL Cool J was then cast. At one point during the early stages of development, Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for the role of Dan "Hondo" Harrelson, but he declined and Samuel L. Jackson took the part.
Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave S.W.A.T. a favorable rating of three stars, as well as a thumbs up on At the Movies. He complimented the characters, dialogue, and the action sequences which he found believable.
Differences from TV series 
T.J. McCabe is one of the antagonists, whereas in the TV series, he always worked for the team.
The film also changes the S.W.A.T. team in several important ways:
- In the TV series, Deke is second-in-command to Hondo; whereas in the film he is at the same level as the others.
- In the film there is a female member of the team, Sánchez; in the TV series it was an all-male team.
- The TV series had only five members on the team, whereas the film introduced a sixth;
- Boxer was not in the TV series and the film left out Luca.
In 2011, a direct to video sequel called S.W.A.T.: Firefight was released. None of the main actors reprised their roles.
- S.W.A.T. at the Internet Movie Database
- S.W.A.T. at AllRovi
- S.W.A.T. at Rotten Tomatoes
- S.W.A.T. at Box Office Mojo