These two defenders of the public tranquility are soon lacing up their boots with a handful of other comrades on a newly formed ass-kickin' unit -- a kind of Dirty Dozen of police work. For purposes of broad box-office appeal, the new S.W.A.T. team led by our man Hondo is as socially diverse as any Marine platoon you've ever seen in a combat movie -- a white guy (Josh Charles), a black guy (LL Cool J) and a tough-as-nails Latina who also happens to be a single mother (Michelle Rodriguez).
Drenched in blood, sweat and testosterone, the members of Hondo's team are dedicated to the propositions that bonding is good, blowing away bad guys is better, and the best thing of all might be -- as it was for their brother-in-arms Dirty Harry Callahan -- to destroy the ego of the stupid, bureaucratic and vindictive police captain (Larry Poindexter) who presumes to rein in their communal free spirit and their deathless commitment to justice. For those who've been wasting their time on church, reading and homework instead of memorizing cop lingo, S.W.A.T. still stands for "Special Weapons and Tactics," and our dauntless crew deploys plenty of both to track down a slick drug dealer named Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez) -- an unclean, American-hating Frenchman, of course -- who's so cocky that he offers a $100 million reward to anyone who can spring him from police custody. Times are hard, so the would-be freedom fighters start lining up right away. Expect the usual mayhem -- blown-up helicopters and eighty-car freeway pileups, hostage-stuffed planes landing on city bridges and assorted gun battles in subway tunnels, storm sewers and midnight railroad yards.
The authors of this relentless high-budget carnage include four writers -- the team of Ron Mita and Jim McClain, which is credited (for some reason) with "story," and the second team of David Ayer (Training Day) and David McKenna (American History X), who get credit for "screenplay." It's hard to know who did what to whom here, but S.W.A.T. is anything but what script doctors like to call "character-driven," and the most compelling dialogue comes in the form of barked orders. "Take a head shot!" one cop yells, and, of course, a bad guy immediately gets a large-caliber slug between the eyes. The director here is Clark Johnson, who made his bones overseeing episodes of high-profile TV series -- The Shield, The West Wing and NYPD Blue, among others. He appears to have the midsummer, big-screen formula down pat: Keep the talk simple and the explosions constant. It's hard to know how many blocks S.W.A.T. will bust in the coming weeks, but it will be hard to beat for sheer destruction. Let's hope Samuel L. Jackson got paid in dollars-per-bullet-fired rather than in dollars-per-word-uttered.
What else is there to say? Hormonally active teenagers and serious candidates for the police academy are likely to devour this ultrafamiliar stuff. Civil libertarians and devotees of the ballet are advised to steer clear. In other words, it's August.