S.W.A.T. (film)

S.W.A.T. is a 2003 American action crime thriller film directed by Clark Johnson and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, and Jeremy Renner. It is based on the 1975 television series of the same name. It was produced by Neal H. Moritz and released in the United States on August 8, 2003.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byClark Johnson
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onS.W.A.T.
by Robert Hammer
Music byElliot Goldenthal
CinematographyGabriel Beristain
Edited byMichael Tronick
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]


Jim Street (Colin Farrell), a former U.S. Navy SEAL and hot-shot cop from the Los Angeles Police Department and his SWAT team are sent to stop a gang of robbers who have taken over a bank. His high-tempered partner and close friend Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner) disobeys an order to hold their position and engages the bank robbers, accidentally wounding a hostage in the process. Gamble and Street are demoted by Captain Fuller (Larry Poindexter), the commanding officer of the LAPD Metropolitan Division. Gamble quits the force following an intense argument with Fuller, and Street is taken off the team and sent to work in the "gun cage", where he looks after the gear and weaponry. Fuller offers Street the chance to return to SWAT by selling Gamble out, but he refuses, though people refuse to trust him as his decision was never made public.

Six months after the incident, the chief of police calls on Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson), a former Marine Force Recon Sergeant who fought in Vietnam, to help re-organize the SWAT platoon. Hondo puts together a diverse team, including himself, Street, Christina Sanchez (Michelle Rodriguez), Deacon Kaye (LL Cool J), TJ McCabe (Josh Charles), and Michael Boxer (Brian Van Holt). The team members train together, eventually forging bonds of friendship. As a result, their first mission to subdue an unstable gunman is a success.

Meanwhile, French drug lord Alexander "Alex" Montel (Olivier Martinez) arrives in Los Angeles and goes to a local restaurant to kill his uncle for holding back the family money from him. While driving to the airport, uniformed LAPD officers stop Montel for a broken tail light and later detain him to get a full positive I.D. on him; they learn through Interpol that he is an international fugitive wanted in over a dozen countries. But as Montel is being transferred to prison, his associates, dressed as LAPD officers, attempt to rescue him as he rides the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department bus. Hondo's team arrives in time to kill the two gunmen and recapture Montel. As Montel, under SWAT escort, approaches the police station, reporters crowd around them, prompting Montel to yell to the cameras that he would "give 100 million dollars to whoever gets [him] out of here". The LAPD makes plans to transfer Montel into federal custody. They initially plan for travel by air, but Gamble shoots down the helicopter with a high-powered rifle. The police next send out a large convoy, which gang members attack and discover to be a decoy, at the same time as Hondo's team is spiriting Montel away in two SUVs. However, while driving Montel into federal custody, it is revealed TJ had been plotting with Gamble, and the two succeed in taking Montel from the other officers, critically wounding Boxer in the process.

Hondo and the rest of his team give chase for a final battle against Gamble's group. Fuller later informs them that Gamble intends to fly Montel out of the United States. Fuller dispatches every officer to Hawthorne airport to prevent the escape. As Hondo and his SWAT team race across town, they observe a plane flying at lower than normal altitudes and deduce correctly that the plane is going to land on the Sixth Street Bridge and is expected by Gamble. They decide to go after the plane, as available units are at the airport and won't make it in time. Before Gamble's group can take off, the team intercepts it, and a gun battle ensues, killing Gamble's remaining thugs, although wounding Sanchez. TJ commits suicide out of remorse for his betrayal of the team and to avoid being disgraced. Street pursues Gamble under the bridge and following a hand-to-hand fight, inadvertently kills him by knocking him under the wheels of a passing train. Fuller and the rest of the LAPD arrive to take care of everything else. Fuller thanks Hondo and his team for their success but tells them the job wasn't finished as Montel was not yet in federal custody. Hondo and his team deliver Montel to a federal prison to await trial. On the way home to Los Angeles, a report of a holdup in progress comes over the police radio and despite the team being two officers down and off shift for the past twelve hours, Hondo, Street, Kaye, and Sanchez decide to help anyway.


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


Michael Bay, Rob Cohen, Antoine Fuqua, Michael Mann, Joel Schumacher, Tony Scott, Zack Snyder, Roger Spottiswoode, 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.

Mark Wahlberg was the first choice for the role of Jim Street, but turned it down in favor of portraying 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. Colin Farrell eventually replaced him. 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. 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.

The bank robbery in the film's opening was choreographed to closely resemble the North Hollywood shootout of 1997.


Elliot Goldenthal composed the soundtrack.[3]


S.W.A.T. saw a nationwide release in North America playing in 3,202 theaters, on the weekend of August 8, 2003.[4][5]

The film was released in Japan in the weekend of 27 September 2003 and United Kingdom, in the weekend of December 5, 2003.

Home media

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.[6]


Box office

S.W.A.T. grossed $116,934,650 in North America and $90,790,989 in other territories, resulting in $207,725,639 worldwide gross.[5]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $37,062,535 playing in 3,202 theaters, with a $11,574 average per theatre and ranking #1,[5] 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.[7]

Critical response

Reception for the movie was mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Rotten" rating of 48%, based on 165 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "A competent, but routine police thriller."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 45 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "Mixed or average reviews".[9]

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.[10]


List of awards and nominations[11]
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.[12] The film was received poorly.[13] A second direct-to-video movie titled S.W.A.T.: Under Siege came out in 2017.

Television series

In February 2017, CBS ordered a pilot based on the movie with Justin Lin, Shawn Ryan, and Moritz as producers.[14] Stephanie Sigman, Shemar Moore, and Jay Harrington will star in the series. Lin was announced to be directing the pilot.[15][16][17]


  1. "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. "Elliot Goldenthal - S.W.A.T." allmusic.com. AllMusic. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  4. "Release info". imdb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  5. "S.W.A.T." boxofficemojo.com. boxofficemojo. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  6. "S.W.A.T. DVD release". dvdsreleasedates.com. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  7. "S.W.A.T. International box office". boxofficemojo.com. Boxofficemojo. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  8. "S.W.A.T." Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2015-01-16.
  9. "S.W.A.T." metacritic.com. Metacritic. August 8, 2003. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  10. Ebert, Roger. "S.W.A.T. :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  11. "S.W.A.T. awards". imdb.com. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  12. "S.W.A.T.: Firefight | Sony Pictures". www.sonypictures.com. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  13. S.W.A.T.: Firefight, retrieved 2017-06-01
  14. Andreeva, Nellie. "'S.W.A.T.' TV Drama Reboot From Shawn Ryan & Justin Lin Gets CBS Pilot Order". Deadline. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  15. Wagmeister, Elizabeth (13 February 2017). "'S.W.A.T.' Reboot at CBS to Star Bond Girl Stephanie Sigman (EXCLUSIVE)". Deadline. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  16. Andreeva, Nellie (28 February 2017). "Shemar Moore To Topline 'S.W.A.T.' CBS Drama Pilot Inspired By Movie". Deadline. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  17. 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.
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