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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Colin Farrell: Not Tall

It has been suggested, in certain quarters, that Colin Farrell is not the huge star that perhaps we expected to see since his breakthrough role in Joel Schumacher's Tigerland - this following the widespread panning and disappointing box-office takings of Oliver Stone's new epic, Alexander. The reviews got me thinking of the sainted Goran Visnjic is Spartacus, in fact (ha, Rolling Stone - you complain about a 'three-hour long buttnumbathon' - how little you know!)

Well, I haven't seen Alexander yet, so in search of that elusive star quality I rented Farrell's 2003 vehicle, S.W.A.T.

Colin Farrell plays a wee little man who works for LAPD S.W.A.T.. During an assault on some incompetent hostage-taking bank robbers, his wee little partner Gamble disobeys an order, and Farrell backs him up. The hostages are saved, but one of them incurs a flesh wound as a result of Gamble's impetuosity, and decides to sue the City. The audience doesn't care.

The chief of police, who is a pencil-pushing bureaucrat, one of those 'Not a real cop' roles, demotes Farrell and Gamble and attempts to get Farrell to rat his partner out in exchange for leniency. Farrell refuses and takes the demotion, while Gamble, who thinks his partner has betrayed him, flounces off in a huff. We care not a whit.

Months pass, and Farrell is still cleaning guns and pining for S.W.A.T. Meanwhile, a Frenchman, played by Kylie's boyfriend, arrives in town with nefarious deeds on his mind. It transpires he is one of those billionaire French crime lords we are always hearing about, and he stabs his uncle in a restaurant. Moments later, he is pulled over for a busted tail-light, and imprisoned. The audience remains resolutely unmoved.

Farrell is recruited by grizzled veteran Samuel L Jackson ("He was the best!") to be part of a new elite S.W.A.T. unit, although we don't really know why, and it's unclear why Pencil-Neck Boss lets Jackson pick all his least favourite people to be in the squad. These comprise a man with a moustache, a preppy-looking bloke out of Dead Poets' Society, LL Cool J, and the good-looking Michelle Rodriguez, who handily ticks those 'Hispanic' and 'Babe' boxes on the demographics chart. Let's call them Hairy, Preppy, Rappy, Spicy, and Mini. They train, bond, and defeat every effort of the Pencil-Neck Boss to sabotage them. The audience wonders why he wants them to fail given that he has invested much time and money in them, but perhaps it is due to the fact that he inexplicably gave the go-ahead in the first place, and feels that he should thwart those of his own decisions for which there is no clear rationale. The audience then checks its watch and is startled to discover that an hour and a quarter has gone by. It felt rather like five and a quarter.

Kylie's beau, meanwhile, has been discovered to be an International Crime Lord and promptly offers $100M to anyone who busts him out of jail. A montage follows in which we see this reported on news networks worldwide; many central-casting gang members, looking like the Kids from Fame gone to seed, say things like 'Madre de Dios!' and exchange leathery but meaningful looks. It is plain that they are going to take the job on! Jings! Crivens! But no. We just don't care.

The movie now centres on the efforts of seven people - the S.W.A.T. team, Jackson, and The Other Black S.W.A.T. Boss, to move Mr Kylie to some prison somewhere. An attempt to move him via helicopter is fails, as they are attacked by a sniper, so they set up a huge ostentatious motorcade. This is promptly attacked by machine-gunners in a painfully boring series of hackneyed pyrotechnics. We are not surprised, no, not at all, when at the end of this sequence it transpires - gasp! - that the French Guy, or "Frog" as every character calls him 100 times each, wasn't in any of the big cars, but is being moved by Mini Farrell's team in discreet little cars. So just a bunch of dead cops then, that's OK. Jesus Christ it's been going on for almost two hours, is there no end?

This plan goes awry when it turns out that Preppy S.W.A.T. has been in league with the embittered mercenary Gamble, who holds up the car with the French Guy in it and liberates him. In the struggle, Hairy is shot, but we don't care because he is just a blue combat suit with a tache on. The team give chase and find themselves in a long, winding, endless scene, I mean tunnel. Gamble and Co. escape for a bit. Then Farrell finds them landing a jet on a bridge to make their getaway. A pallid gun battle ensues. The French Guy is captured; Spicy is shot harmlessly in the vest; Preppy is cornered and shoots himself; and Farrell pursues Gamble into a dark train yard. We begin to wonder about our top ten snooker players of all time. Where to put Terry Griffiths?

In the thrilling climax of the movie, two miniature and near-identical men dressed exactly alike are engaged in a life-or-death struggle in the dark. One of them is decapitated by a train. Our spirits lift when, deceived by the inky gloom, we think for a second that Mini Farrell is the Headless Wonder, but it is not to be. It is Gamble. The fact that Hairy, who was shot in the throat, also pulls through, is the final insult.

So, S.W.A.T. sucks so hard it is amazing that it's even visible, but what of Farrell? Well, he's a complete nonentity. He lights up the screen not at all. The moustache upstages him. Why Oliver Stone feels that he can embody Alexander the Great is a mystery... did he even consider Goran Visnjic?


Blogger xz said...

i recommend watching the Recruit. you'll sort your top ten snooker player problem out in no time.

6:40 pm  

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