Though others might not share my same vision, I have had my share of serious cop movies and television shows. Every time I turn on the television, it seems like everybody wants authentic police work in the form of crime scene investigation, special victims unit, and even a SWAT team or two. Even though this has spawned a few excellent shows like Flashpoint and the Shield, I wished for something lighter. Enter the direct to disc film, Tactical Force.
It is just another day in Los Angeles. We visit a grocery store where normal activity is occurring. All of the sudden, a clown, Bill Clinton, and Obama show up (masks of course). If that is not the setup for a joke, I don’t know what is. Anyway, they hold up the place. As people are gripped in fear, the police are called in to negotiate the safe return of the hostages. But there is only one team that can take care of this situation, and that is the SWAT team.
This four person (3 guys, 1 lady) team consists of martial arts expert, Hunt (played by Michael Jai White), the brash Blanco (played by Steve Bacic) and the beautiful but feisty Jannard (played by Lexa Doig). Headed by that tough, redneck SOB Tate (played by Steve Austin), they spring into action. This team has no need for negotiation, they just walk right in. (Well, there is a brief attempt by Tate, but that goes nowhere)
The next ten minutes are glorious. The team comes in and kicks butt and takes down the criminal element without hurting any of the hostages. Keep in mind, this is a grocery store. So we get plenty of meat tossing, aisle sliding, and bee-bee gun shooting. Bee Bee Gun? Yes, Hunt carries a Bee Bee Gun, he calls her Daisy. One liners are tossed, food flies and bad guys get taken down. This is the best overblown cop segment I have seen since Other Guys (Samuel Jackson and Dwayne Johnson).
They even celebrate afterwards, I am on the floor at this point laughing my tail off. If they can keep this up, this might be the best cop movie ever. No such luck as Chief Barnett (played by Peter Bryant) calls them in. He is rather upset with them and the whole team is immediately suspended. They have to attend sensitivity classes and perform drills until they understand how to do their job correctly. All I have to say at this point is boo on you sir.
Meanwhile over at Big Bear Lake, we visit an abandoned warehouse. There we are introduced to a couple of Russian mob members, Demetrius and Ilya (played by Michael Shanks and Candace Elaine) who are trying to shake down a stoolie named Kenny (played by Michael Eklund). Apparently, there is a very special case contained in this warehouse and they want him to give up the exact location.
However, Kenny also told the Italian mob, Lampone and Storato (played by Adrian Holmes and Darren Shahlavi) about the case and they show up just at the right time. The two factions grumble over each other while Kenny looks on. Then the two mob teams hear a police siren and scramble to their weapons. It just so happens to be Tate’s SWAT Team who are going to use the abandoned warehouse for training. This should be one interesting affair.
After the first ten minutes of this movie, I was blown away. I was in the mood for a completely over the top cop movie with a ton of humor and this exceeded my expectations. Then it descended into seriousness with touches of humor and never looked back. I will admit that this is probably the best Steve Austin movie I have seen to date. He fits the character perfectly and has an ample supporting cast. His team is also able to keep up with the sharp wit that exists here.
I also have to highlight the work of Michael Shanks who plays Demetrius. He had some of the best lines in the movie and was fun to watch. Keith Jardine (who helps the Italian mob) is effective as a strong arm. The knock against this movie is that it never lives up to the opening scenes. They try and try to find their groove back but it only comes in short doses. Still, the movie is enjoyable as long as you leave your brain at the door. If you are looking for serious SWAT action, look elsewhere.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. Color is fairly good here. I mean I shouldn’t expect otherwise given the action theme and that this is a new film but it is nice to know that the movie delivers. Flesh tones are accurate and saturation seems spot on for the warehouse like surroundings. I guess that is my only complaint towards the visual aspect of the movie, not enough color. But the video presentation is more than satisfactory overall.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 DTS-HD track for English. Sound is pretty good here and loud. Dialog is decently clear, though I guess with the mixture of accents sprinkled here and there, some of the words did become difficult to interpret (which sucked when it came to listening to Michael Shanks who had some of the best lines). Effects are above average and the surrounds are used fairly effectively in his high paced action film. Subtitles are also included for English SDH and Spanish.
- Inside Tactical Force 10:39: We get to hear from Austin, Jai White and Jardine talk about the movie along with various members of the crew. This movie was originally known as Hangar 14 and you will notice a lot of people reference it by that name. It would have been nice if they stuck with that name. Tactical Force sounds like action film marketing 101. Believe it or not, this group did spend time with the actual L.A. Swat team for about a day and a half.
- Fight Sequence 2:18: This is more like a fight montage. Lots of clips of the various fights and pump up the volume.
- Original Trailer 1:19: This short list of extras come to an end with the trailer. It is mostly blah but does give you an idea of what to expect.
I know what you are thinking, there is no way you are buying this movie. Think about it, if you saw this movie in a lineup with a dozen other cop movies, this would be one of the last ones you would pick. But truth be told, this movie is pretty decent. There are a lot of good one-liners, some over the top violence and great action. The only knock against it is that it actually tries to be serious at some points. Honestly, the ending is also a little bit confusing.
That aside, the disc is very technically sound. The video and the audio are excellent, far exceeding some recent blockbusters. The extras are rather thin but considering the nature of this release, it is hard to expect more. Like I said, my only real complaint with this movie is that at some point, they let it get serious. It needed to be over the top, it needed to exceed anything reasonable. It needed to be like the first ten minutes. Anyway, recommended for a rental, it is enjoyable just not as amazing as it could have been.