Just saying the name, Samuel L. Jackson, can elicit a number of emotions. The prolific actor has been apart of Americana for going on 40 years now with his initial introduction to Hollywood in the 1981 period piece Ragtime. Since that time, Sam Jackson has been a part of one hit after another. He has starred in many Spike Lee joints, various Quentin Tarantino films, he has fought (and lost to) dinosaurs, and he has also fought (and won) against Marvel villains. Sam Jackson has been in comedies, dramas, reimaginings, and remakes. He has also been a part of fun projects like the 2002 short, The Comeback, which saw Jackson return to his roots as a football player. The short has to be seen to be believed, classic comedy. And now, Netflix has just added to their repertoire one of Sam Jackson’s overlooked movies, the 2003 action film S.W.A.T.
When S.W.A.T. was released in 2003, it went up against films such as Bad Boys II, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, American Wedding, and 2 Fast 2 Furious. The movie was based on the TV series of the same name that starred Steve Forrest as “Hondo” Harrelson, Robert Urich as Jim Street, and Rod Perry as Deacon Kay. The series lasted only two seasons but for those who grew up in that era, the series made an impact.
The new S.W.A.T. starred Sam Jackson as Hondo and brought in Colin Farrell as Jim Street, and L.L. Cool J as Deacon Kay. It is said that Mark Wahlberg was the first choice as Street, but he passed so he could film The Italian Job. Paul Walker was actually cast in the movie but had to drop out so he could start filming 2 Fast 2 Furious so Farrell replaced him. Another Fast & Furious star was offered a part too. Vin Diesel (who didn’t appear in 2 Fast 2 Furious) was offered the role of Deacon Kaye but he too passed so he could film The Chronicles of Riddick.
The Sam Jackson version of S.W.A.T. told the story of the Los Angeles Police Department’s special unit that initially is in a hostage-bank robbery situation. Street is one of the officers going into the bank with his partner, Brian Gamble (played by Jeremy Renner). When Street disobeys his order and engages the robbers, a hostage gets wounded. After the incident, Street is asked to implicate his partner, which he refuses to do. Street is then removed from S.W.A.T. Six months later, Hondo is asked to reorganize S.W.A.T. by bringing in new members. Street is asked by Hondo to drive him around to find these new members.
The movie kicks into a higher gear when French drug lord Alexander Montel (Olivier Martinez) arrives in L.A. to assume control of his family’s drug empire. As events unfold, S.W.A.T. is able to arrest Montel. Upon his arrest and transfer to federal custody, Montel offers up $100 million for anyone who will break him out.
S.W.A.T. has been called by some a “routine police thriller.” But it fared quite well with audiences at the box office pulling in nearly $208 million. While it could be “routine”, it offers enough entertainment that crime thriller fans can appreciate. Besides, it has Sam Jackson in it. With its recent release to Netflix, it has quickly jumped up into the top five most popular movies on the streaming service. Check it out.