S.W.A.T. (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Theatrical release poster
Directed byClark Johnson
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Ron Mita
  • Jim McClain
Based onS.W.A.T.
by Robert Hamner
Produced by
CinematographyGabriel Beristain
Edited byMichael Tronick
Music byElliot Goldenthal
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • August 8, 2003 (2003-08-08)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$70 million[1]
Box office$207.2 million[1]

S.W.A.T. is a 2003 American action crime thriller film directed by Clark Johnson and written by David Ayer and David McKenna, with the story credited to Ron Mita and Jim McClain. Produced by Neal H. Moritz, it is based on the 1975 television series of the same name and stars Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Josh Charles, Jeremy Renner, Brian Van Holt and Olivier Martinez. The plot follows Hondo (Jackson) and his SWAT team as they are tasked to escort an imprisoned drug kingpin/international fugitive to prison after he offers a $100 million reward to anyone who can break him out of police custody.

Plans for a film adaptation of the 1975 TV series began in the 1990s, but never materialized until the early 2000s. Johnson was hired as director and Jackson, Farrell and LL Cool J were cast in 2002.

S.W.A.T. was released in the United States on August 8, 2003. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $207 million worldwide, making it the 22nd highest-grossing film of 2003.


Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officer Jim Street, his partner Brian Gamble, and their team infiltrate a bank taken hostage by robbers, where Gamble disobeys orders and engages the robbers, causing a hostage to sustain injuries. He and Street manage to subdue the criminals, but are taken off the SWAT team by Captain Fuller, the commanding officer of the LAPD Metropolitan Division. Fuller offers Street a chance to rejoin the team by implicating Gamble, but he refuses and is demoted to working police inventory. Gamble, under the assumption that Street ratted on him to stay on SWAT, quits the force and ends their friendship.

Six months later, the chief of police calls on Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson, a Marine Force Recon veteran, to reorganize the SWAT team. Hondo takes an interest in Street, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, and recruits him along with fellow officers TJ McCabe, Michael Boxer, Deacon Kaye, and Chris Sanchez, despite Fuller's protests. They bond as they train together and manage to pass their numerous tests; as they celebrate afterward, Street has a hostile run-in with Gamble. The team then succeeds in their first real mission: subduing an unstable gunman by using a wall-breaching battering ram designed by Street.

French drug lord Alexander Montel arrives in Los Angeles and kills his uncle for embezzlement, after assuming control of his family's criminal empire by killing his father. As he drives to the airport in his uncle's car, he is pulled over by police for a broken tail light, and detained due to discrepancies with his false I.D.; authorities determine that he is an international fugitive and is wanted in several countries. Montel's associates, disguised as LAPD officers, attempt to break him out as he is being transferred to jail, killing two Sheriff's deputies. Hondo's team manages to arrive in time to kill the gunmen and recapture Montel. As reporters swarm the team, Montel announces to the cameras that he is willing to offer 100 million dollars to whoever is able to break him out, which draws the attention of criminals across the city.

The LAPD prepare to transfer Montel into federal custody by air, but are unable to escape before Gamble shoots down the helicopter. The police send out a large convoy, which is ambushed by gang members but discovered to be a decoy for Hondo's team, who transport Montel in two SUVs. McCabe reveals himself to be in league with Gamble, who critically wounds Boxer and escapes with Montel and McCabe to the subway, where they hijack a subway car and flee through the sewers as the SWAT team gives chase. Fuller then sends all available units to Hawthorne Airport to prevent Montel from escaping by plane.

Hondo's team commandeers a limousine to reach the airport, but realize that Gamble has a private plane which will land on the Sixth Street Bridge to fly the criminals out of the country. Preparing to take off, the plane is intercepted by the SWAT team; Gamble's men are killed, Sanchez is wounded while Kaye arrests Montel, and Hondo confronts McCabe, who commits suicide. Street pursues Gamble to the railyard under the bridge, where they fight hand-to-hand until Gamble is knocked under a passing train and killed. Fuller and the rest of the LAPD arrive, and Hondo's team deliver Montel to federal prison. As the team drive back to Los Angeles, they receive a report of an armed robbery in progress to which Hondo readies his team with prompting from Street.


Original series actors Steve Forrest and Rod Perry have cameo appearances; Forrest drives the team's van, while Perry appears as Kaye's father.[2]

Reed Diamond has a cameo as Officer David Burress. Diamond and director Clark Johnson appeared together on Homicide: Life on the Street for three seasons (in two of which their characters were partners). Johnson himself has a cameo as "Deke's Handsome Partner," who gets hit with a pan while Deke chases a suspect.



The idea for a film adaptation of the 1975 S.W.A.T. TV series was conceived in 1997. Michael Bay, Rob Cohen, Antoine Fuqua, Michael Mann, Joel Schumacher, Tony Scott, Zack Snyder,[3] Roger Spottiswoode, Marcus Nispel,[4] and John Woo were all approached to direct the film before Clark Johnson signed on. They passed because they were all busy with other projects. Oliver Stone was also involved as a producer at one point.

Following the box office success of The Fast and the Furious (2001), Neal H. Moritz was hired to produce the project.


Mark Wahlberg was the first choice for the role of Jim Street, but turned it down in favor of portraying the lead role in The Italian Job. 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.[5] Colin Farrell eventually replaced him in July 2002.[6] Vin Diesel was offered to portray Deacon "Deke" Kaye, but passed because he was in production with The Chronicles of Riddick and LL Cool J was then cast in September 2002.[7] 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.

Jeremy Renner was cast as Brian Gamble following his performance in Dahmer. He was originally offered a role in The Big Bounce, but Renner turned it down.


All filming were shot on location in Los Angeles. The bank robbery in the film's opening was choreographed to closely resemble the North Hollywood shootout of 1997. It was filmed at an abandoned building at the corner Workman St and N Broadway in Lincoln Heights.[8] The unit's training scenes were filmed at the city's historic Ambassador Hotel; the building was demolished in 2006.[9][10] The film's climax was shot on the former Sixth Street Viaduct,[11] once one of Hollywood's most popular bridges for location filming.[12]


Elliot Goldenthal composed the soundtrack.[13]


S.W.A.T. saw a nationwide release in North America playing in 3,202 theaters, on the weekend of August 8, 2003.[14][15]

The film was released in Japan in the weekend of 27 September 2003 and United Kingdom, in the weekend of December 4, 2003.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD as S.W.A.T. Widescreen Special Edition on December 30, 2003 and on Blu-ray Disc on September 19, 2006.[16]


Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, S.W.A.T. grossed $37,062,535 playing in 3,202 theaters, with a $11,574 average per theatre and ranking at #1.[15] The biggest market in other territories being Japan, United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, where the film grossed $16.9 million, $9.7 million, $7.1 million, $6.47 million respectively.[17] At the end of its box office run, S.W.A.T. grossed $116,934,650 in North America and $90,790,989 in other territories, resulting in a $207,725,639 worldwide gross.[15][18]

Critical response[edit]

Reception for the movie was mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 48%, based on 168 reviews, with an average rating of 5.42/10. The site's consensus reads, "A competent, but routine police thriller."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 45 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "Mixed or average reviews".[20] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on a scale of A to F.[21]

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.[22]


List of awards and nominations[23]
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
BET Awards Best Actor Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Film S.W.A.T. Nominated
California on Location Awards Location Professional of the Year - Features Mark Benton Johnson (Shared with Holes) Won
Irish Film & Television Academy Best Actor in a Lead Role – Film (Jury Award) Colin Farrell Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Mexico Best Colin Farrell in a Movie S.W.A.T. Won



A direct-to-video film titled S.W.A.T.: Firefight came out in 2011. None of the main actors reprised their roles.[24] A second direct-to-video movie titled S.W.A.T.: Under Siege came out in 2017.

Television series[edit]

In February 2017, CBS ordered a pilot based on the movie with Justin Lin, Shawn Ryan, and Moritz as producers.[25] Stephanie Sigman, Shemar Moore, and Jay Harrington were reported to star in the series. Justin Lin was announced to be directing the pilot.[26][27][28]


  1. ^ a b "S.W.A.T." The Numbers.
  2. ^ Mitchell, E. (August 8, 2003). "FILM REVIEW; Working Up A S.W.E.A.T." The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  3. ^ Fleming, Michael; Brodesser, Claude (August 16, 2000). "Col rolls new 'SWAT' team". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  4. ^ Cox, Dan (June 25, 1997). "'S.W.A.T.' regroups". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  5. ^ Swanson, Tim; Brodesser, Claude (July 24, 2001). "Col cops a 'SWAT' shot". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  6. ^ Brodesser, Claude (July 7, 2002). "Col takes shot at 'S.W.A.T.'". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  7. ^ Fleming, Michael (September 17, 2002). "LL Cool J takes 'SWAT' at pic". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  8. ^ "S.W.A.T. 2003". www.movie-locations.com. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  9. ^ "The Actual Southern California Locations where 2003's "S.W.A.T." was filmed". www.seeing-stars.com. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  10. ^ Nichols, Chris (22 January 2014). "Movies Filmed at the Ambassador Hotel". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  11. ^ "S.W.A.T. (2003) Film Locations". www.globalfilmlocations.net. 29 April 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  12. ^ Koeppel, Dan (February 9, 2016). "Exit L.A.'s Most Cinematic Bridge". The Atlantic.
  13. ^ "Elliot Goldenthal - S.W.A.T." allmusic.com. AllMusic. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  14. ^ "Release info". imdb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "S.W.A.T." boxofficemojo.com. boxofficemojo. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  16. ^ "S.W.A.T. DVD release". dvdsreleasedates.com. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  17. ^ "S.W.A.T. International box office". boxofficemojo.com. Boxofficemojo. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  18. ^ 2003 Worldwide Box Office. Box Office Mojo
  19. ^ "S.W.A.T." Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  20. ^ "S.W.A.T." metacritic.com. Metacritic. August 8, 2003. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  21. ^ "S.W.A.T. (2003) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  22. ^ Ebert, Roger. "S.W.A.T. :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  23. ^ "S.W.A.T. awards". imdb.com. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  24. ^ "S.W.A.T.: Firefight | Sony Pictures". www.sonypictures.com. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (4 February 2017). "'S.W.A.T.' TV Drama Reboot From Shawn Ryan & Justin Lin Gets CBS Pilot Order". Deadline. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  26. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (13 February 2017). "'S.W.A.T.' Reboot at CBS to Star Bond Girl Stephanie Sigman (EXCLUSIVE)". Deadline. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  27. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (28 February 2017). "Shemar Moore To Topline 'S.W.A.T.' CBS Drama Pilot Inspired By Movie". Deadline. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  28. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (13 March 2017). "'S.W.A.T.': Jay Harrington To Star In CBS Drama Pilot Inspired By Movie". Deadline. Retrieved 14 March 2017.

External links[edit]