SWAT: Under Siege Blu-ray Review

Swatted Away

Sony rebooted the ‘70s TV show SWAT in 2003, a generally forgettable action flick with Samuel L. Jackson in the lead. Since then, the series fell into a series of DTV sequels, leading to Under Siege and, strangely, another TV show later in 2017.

This jumble of in-name-only television and film is entirely disconnected. Each movie starts over. The TV show is long forgotten. Under Siege, as with the rest of the sequels, have budgets likely less than Samuel L. Jackson’s salary alone. Still, with competent action and believable leads, Under Siege is passable to fill time.

Primarily, it’s Michael Jai White saving this claustrophobic actioner. His nameless mystery man kicks, punches, and shoots his way through hordes of evil PMC contractors. A stoic demeanor and his carefully delivered words give this latest SWAT something memorable.

Between White’s bits, Sam Jaeger takes on the hero’s role, a generic middle class American with one and a half kids. He’s eager to view some July 4th fireworks after work. He’s trapped though – movie hacker types lock down the SWAT facility, digitally wrestling the building away from good guy control. Bad guys? They’re after White, sending hundreds of goons toward the SWAT crew, resolved in a relatively anti-climactic and sudden finale.

Everyone has their action moment, with a chance to go hand-to-hand in decently shot fights

Stamped with the SWAT name, the rudimentary set pieces certainly involve SWAT. It’s true to its name, even if their tactics bring about questionable decisions. The script needs to wrangle a bunch of logic gaps through dialog. “It’s not working,” is this film’s way out of dodging the lack of outside communications. Movie hackers work miracles when they want to.

As with most of its ilk, Under Siege dispenses with character development. Eventual twists fall flat as a result. Most of the cast leans on standard archetypes, including Adrianne Palicki as the SWAT’s commanding suit. Everyone has their action moment, with a chance to go hand-to-hand in decently shot fights. Choreography rises above the norm.

However, the whole thing is stuck in an indifferent, “why bother?” trap. Without connections to the series, no recurrent actors, and certainly no simmering commentary outside of flag waving pride, this SWAT is a mere one-off marketplace filler. It’s sitting alongside a glut of Steven Seagal flicks doing the same thing, although Michael Jai White has more convincing presence and agility.

Video

A bit of stock footage exists in this Seattle-based production. Expect some lower resolution cityscapes. One shot of the American flag badly pixelates late in the film. These pass quickly, in general.

Ignore a few bouts of noise and SWAT: Under Siege produces gorgeously clean images. The level of clarity, resolution, and fidelity in this DTV offering is certainly impressive. While the cinematography doesn’t rise above that of a TV drama, the number of superbly textured close-ups filling the time makes for a detailed delight.

Heavy on daytime lighting, the disc spreads contrast around. It’s bright, delivering strong dimension. Also ideal is the lack of bleeding light, giving scenes enough to work with and holding back as to not overdo it. Some black crush in the opening act as the team (dressed all in black) march through shadows is acceptable.

Mild color grading does little to hinder the natural palette. A slight blue slant doesn’t impact natural flesh tones. Primaries stay flat without much punch.

Audio

More observant than many DTV offerings, the DTS-HD mix remains sound space aware. Little things, like guns being dropped into a stereo channel or a phone ringing in the appropriate surround, give life to this track.

The few shoot-outs track generic bullet effects between speakers, pinging each missed shot into a positional. If something seems missing, it’s the LFE support. Even when villains pull out a turret, the lack of weight leaves SWAT feeling lifeless.

Extras

Some trailers fill the menu and that’s it.

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