The truth is, the formula is tired. Yes, the action is high-octane, and there's a cool factor at work in the slow-motion effects, dramatic camera movements and training montage that culminates in a game of cards played by sharp-shooting at a deck poised on a hillside hundreds of yards away. And, yes, it's at times funny, especially in the exchanges between the sardonic Farrell and Jackson (about the rifle Street just cleaned for Hondo: "If you want me to show you how to shoot it, I'm here all week nine to five."), though at other times unintentionally so ("I may work in the mud, but I like to play up in the clouds." Okaaay).
But the character development--what would really make us care about this film--is lacking. There's an attempt to show that these are men and women with families, with lives outside of the force. But the sentiment is too little to be effective: It's not explicitly clear why Farrell's character makes such a good S.W.A.T. team member and leader. Olivier Martinez, who plays the bad guy, displayed a subtlety in "Unfaithful" that is undermined here; instead, he comes off as a caricature of an international criminal mastermind. The exception is Jeremy Renner, whose Elijah Wood-esque sweet good looks belie a steely reserve and a bold taste in projects, such as his previous starring role in "Dahmer." In an unremarkable film, Renner is a real find. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J and Olivier Martinez. Directed by Clark Johnson. Written by David Ayerand David McKenna. Produced by Neal H. Moritz, Dan Halsted and Chris Lee. A Columbia release. Action. Rated PG-13 for violence, language and sexual references. Running time: 117 min