|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 30 December 2003|
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Chapter 3 uses the discrete sound just as carefully for a much more minor detail – check out the barking dog in the right rear – while the Rolling Stones’ “Shattered” is utilized shrewdly over a montage of Street going through his daily workout routine (in a nice bit of music information detail, Johnson mentions on the commentary track that the Stones charged a pretty penny for use of the track).
Chapter 6 again has great discrete bullet hits, albeit in a much more controlled environment, as punchy weapons fire lights up a shooting range from various aural vantage points as the visuals take us from character to character. Chapter 9 has especially effective use of a Spanish-language rap number during a foot chase through East L.A., as the screen lights up with almost glowing colors as the characters dodge around a parade.
Chapter 13 has the DVD’s one noticeable sonic flaw – a section of the dialogue track becomes briefly but jarringly uneven, especially on Jackson’s speeches, with levels jumping up and down. The problem does not occur elsewhere, however.
Chapter 17 has yet more excellent directional bullet hits, along with crash sounds and sirens in the rears so convincing you may look out the window to see if your street is having a sudden crisis. Chapter 19 has an explosion that seems to litter debris throughout the room and Chapter 20 has massive, solid car impact sounds. Chapter 24 has what may be the film’s biggest explosion yet, with a steel ladder being blown across the screen and clanging to rest in the right rear.
Music selections that can be found throughout the film include numbers by Thicke, El Gran Silencio, Genaro Codina, T.H. Guild, Band La Estrella, Linkin Park, Buppy, Jimmy Tha Joun, Sammy Davis Jr. (for a moment of really old-school gangster feel), Jane’s Addiction, 13, Apollo Four Forty, Long John Hunter, Paulina Rubio, John Gipson, Hot Action Cop and Barry DeVorzon’s old “S.W.A.T.” TV series theme.
The “S.W.A.T.” DVD comes with two audio commentary tracks, which can both be recommended for lively entertainment value, along with a wealth of information for anyone interested in how the movie was made. The first track features direction Johnson and cast members Jackson, Renner, LL Cool J, Michelle Rodriguez, Brian Van Holt and Josh Charles. Johnson is in fact fairly serious for the most part (though he confesses to tricking Farrell into doing a barf gag), but the actors are cut-ups, teasing each other constantly. Early on, Rodriguez wonders why Farrell’s character sticks around after being demoted. “Because there would be no movie!” LL Cool J replies. “We’d be doing ‘S.W.A.T.’ the short!” A separate commentary track with the four credited writers is equally energetic and funny, providing deep background on the origins of various story concepts and some true-life facts about real S.W.A.T. activity, as well. The requisite making-of featurette is done well and there’s also a featurette on the ‘70s “S.W.A.T.” TV show with on-camera interviews with surviving cast members. Deleted scenes are fine, unembarrassing but not missed from the final cut.
“S.W.A.T.” pretty much steers clear of any political controversy – good guys and bad guys are easily identifiable, the setpieces are inventive and both the storyline and the visuals sweep us along pretty effortlessly. The movie doesn’t provoke a lot of thought, but it’s thoroughly satisfying for what it is.