Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 35
  2. Negative: 9 out of 35
  1. 75
    One of the best cop thrillers since "Training Day."
  2. 50
    Likely won't please fans of the original TV series, but the movie hasn't been made for them.
  3. 50
    What we have here is a model for the paint-by-numbers, perfectly generic, proudly soulless summer action flick. An original idea would die for lack of oxygen in S.W.A.T.
  4. 50
    Actor-turned-director Clark Johnson uses the flashy, up-to-the-minute editing and camera stunts action fans expect, but keeps the mayhem on a recognizably human scale — it's big, but not insanely overblown.
  5. SWAT is better than "Gigli," but so is most outpatient surgery.
  6. Aware of its own cuteness because the dialogue plays by the rules of meta-entertainment.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Those who love police overkill, guns, jingoistic race-baiting, guns, macho smugness, and guns will be well served.
  8. Though the film's second half has some good action moments, it never fulfills the promise of its earliest scenes.
  9. Looks like the deformed spawn of a development process gone awry.
  10. Directed by Clark Johnson in an efficient and occasionally exhilarating style that points to the Emmy-winner's TV cop-show pedigree ("Homicide," "The Wire," "NYPD Blue").
  11. 30
    Surely something more original than this could have been mined from the history of North America’s largest and most professional police force. As it is, though, Johnson’s film is just firing blanks.
  12. 38
    A compendium of missed opportunities, uninspired action and clichés so tired, you wish the screenwriters had called 911, too.
  13. 60
    As summer shoot-'em-ups go, this is pretty well executed, with plenty of macho posing and gunfire.
  14. The strongest parts of the film aren't these money shots, but the buildup to the gunplay.
  15. 40
    Mostly standard-issue muddle.
  16. The standout in the cast is James Todd Smith, whose acting talent may soon persuade him to shed his adolescent stage name of LL Cool J and concentrate on mainstream film roles.
  17. Technically clever but emotionally's an almost laughably opportunistic movie.
  18. It's just one more competent but routine, midlevel ($70 million) late-summer action movie filled with the usual explosions, shootouts and male bonding.
  19. 38
    S.W.A.T. may be an acronym for Special Weapons and Tactics, but by the end of this routine melodrama, it might as well stand for Standard Whacking and Trashing.
  20. 80
    As the team leader, Jackson finds exactly the right tone for the role: a sort of playful cockiness that comes from knowing just how good he is. He's clearly having fun, but he never winks at the audience too much or allows his performance to devolve into camp.
  21. Noisy, standard-issue cop actioner.
  22. Offers up the kind of pleasures that only a summer movie can...The cast is good-looking, the soundtrack is loud, the plot is stupid.
  23. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    By the time you've given up guessing whether S.W.A.T. wants to be a half-serious action pic or just affably jokey, its storytelling has turned so ludicrously melodramatic that it doesn't matter.
  24. While the movie is stupid, it is -- hooray, and let's put this in all the national ads! -- not appallingly stupid.
  25. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    I was all revved up to have a whale of a fascist good time, and S.W.A.T. left me let down and pissed-off.
  26. A prototypical new-millennium summer movie, S.W.A.T. is no more than an extended trailer for itself.
  27. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Coming in the wake of the physically astonishing "Bad Boys 2," S.W.A.T. seems square.
  28. There is something sneakily gratifying about all this: Not since the days of "Earthquake" have Hollywood producers so indulged their fantasies of trashing the town.
  29. 50
    Serviceable, wholly uninspired.
  30. 20
    Seems best suited to all the couch-potato swinging dicks who get off watching the police on "Cops" keep the public safe from people in possession of marijuana.
  31. 50
    S.W.A.T. boasts the kernel of a good idea - but it gets buried in the chaff of half-baked plot threads, partly realized characters and unstructured pandemonium.
  32. 60
    A thoroughly unremarkable police action movie starring the magnetic Samuel L. Jackson.
  33. Reviewed by: Alan Morrison
    Formula is now the name of the game, although a steady diet of stunts and shootouts ensures that the audience is never bored.
  34. Reviewed by: Stephen Cole
    Lots of buildings and cars explode, but there isn't a spark between any of the characters.
  35. Reviewed by: Kevin Carr
    One of those guilty pleasures of the summer. It’s also one of those action movies that could have been ruined if Jerry Bruckheimer had taken charge of it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 61 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 32
  2. Negative: 6 out of 32
  1. Feb 2, 2012
    It wasnt that bad. The acting is solid through out and there is a ton of good action, Its suprisingly addictive to watch. I have seen it 3-4 times and I still enjoy it. The plot isnt all that good and rather generic overall, Some parts of the movie are just stupid and make you question why they were added in the first place. Yet still its an enjoyable action film worth the watch. Full Review »
  2. Mar 8, 2014
    If you just wanna see stuff getting blown up and gunfire action, you've found a perfect movie. If you wanna see a movie with real character development combined with intense action, you might want to look somewhere else. Full Review »
  3. Dec 29, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Odd that people would critique this movie with complaints about no character development, no effective storyline, etc. Whenever you have a dynamic ensemble cast, you must balance the story between character development and the story arc--I.e., action. It's easy to criticize from an armchair, but trust me, actually doing it is difficult and nerve wracking...not to mention, budget eating and time snarfing. And when you have a movie such as S.W.A.T., on top of it all, people pay for the action. I am sure that miles of film are littering the editing room floor that would have fluffed up each character into a movie of their own. However, the sacrifices to the God of action at the expense of the God of brevity weren't without their necessity. I like action. Were there parts that were slow and maybe unnecessary? Of course. But every storyteller, in every medium, wants the target audience to know SOMETHING about the main characters, even if some of the chosen scenes seemed poorly thought out, or in some cases, pure filling...without the satisfying fullness that comes with a good story 'meal.' The action, while a bit murky in a few places, was mostly satisfying. The story, while a bit weak, followed the narrative arc that I would expect, fairly straightforwardly from beginning to end, with only a couple of false steps when it came to individual character story lines. And, of course, as in most good cop, bad cop movies, the filmmaker tried to blur the line between good and evil, with 'good guys' doing the 'wrong' thing, and at least one of the bad guys trying to do the 'right' thing. Ah, Hollywood. One day they may get it right. But for now, real life has more twists and turns than even S.W.A.T. could ever have seen coming, even with their high-powered sniper scopes at the ready. Full Review »