This drill just got real.
I had looked forward to this ever since it appeared on IMDB a few months ago. Steve Austin, Michael Jai White and most interestingly Michael Shanks all together in a SWAT action film. It sounded good on paper and I've enjoyed Austin's DTV work more than most people, so I had high hopes for Tactical Force. Plus I got a real kick out of seeing Shanks listed alongside those wrestler and martial arts types!
Hunt, Blanco and Jannard (Michael Jai White, Steve Bacic and Lexa Doig) are members of a SWAT team headed by Tate (Steve Austin). When called to the scene of a store robbery, Tate and his colleagues throw away the rule book and go in all guns blazing, killing most of the suspects and causing a quarter of a million dollars worth of stock damage in hilarious fashion. The Chief (Peter Bryant) is unimpressed, and not being swayed by the fact that they rescued all the hostages, demands that the team go for retraining - part of which is physical exercises at a training facility (essentially an abandoned warehouse).
Unknown to them, Russian bad guy Demetrius (Michael Shanks) is already on the scene with his double-crossing goon Kenny (Michael Eklund) trying to locate a hidden package. To make matters more complicated, a rival gang of Italian criminals led by Lampone (Adrian Holmes, also in Austin's Hunt to Kill) and Storato (played by regular DTV bad guy Darren Shahlavi) are also there to retrieve the same package. These armed but fairly non-threatening bad guys shouldn't be a match for a team of elite SWAT, except for one thing: Tate and co. only have non-lethal training ammunition with them. And it doesn't help that both sets of bad guys call in their own re-enforcements...
This was amusing, and stupid (and cheap), but really quite fun. Honestly I was smiling the whole way through this. A lot of the time it was a "I can't believe they just said/did that" smile but there was also a few "that was pretty cool" smiles. The main point: I was smiling, which means I enjoyed it. From the beginning that was like a team version of the opening scene in Cobra, through to the final humorous camaraderie about how they are going to get fired, I was having fun with this. The action is why we are here though and it's all pretty decent quality. I can believe somebody would hire Austin as a SWAT team leader; he certainly has the physique for it. So does Michael Jai White, who brings the house down with his one liner at the end before firing an obscenely large weapon ("Wait, I need a line..... okay, I got one!").
Steve Austin gets the lead role but in general, everybody gets a chance to show off their skills to some degree in this. The only downside is that that means we only get one real decent fight from Austin and Jai White especially, and not against each other as they are on the same team. Austin does get to go toe to toe with another wrestler, Keith Jardine, who is fairly new to DTV (he was in Death Warrior, Unrivaled and again with Austin in the upcoming Recoil) but he does a decent job as the hired thug. In fact he delivers lines better than Austin, though I don't think he could pull off a leading role. I'm happy to be proven wrong, though. The other two members of the team Jannard and Blanco are both sassy and slightly annoying, though don't take centre stage very often. I wonder if an Austin and Jai White buddy comedy would work?
I loved Michael Shanks in this. I'm a big Stargate SG-1 nerd and have watched Shanks lend himself to a few SyFy channel movies too, but to see him in an action movie - with a hilarious Russian accent, no less - was a great laugh. To these eyes, he stole the show, and was easily the most likeable and lively character of the bunch. He has a way of making everyone else he talks to seem stupid, even with a comedy accent. His partner in crime (literally) is Ilya, played by the quite striking Candace Elaine, who channels the likes of Trinity from the Matrix and Katya - Jeremy Irons' girl in Die Hard 3 - as she is the first to brutally draw blood in the movie.
I guess some downsides would be the cheapness of the production in certain aspects. Every scene change involves a bad side-wipe effect that grated after a while. Being modern DTV it is of course filmed on digital HD cameras, but that's not hugely a problem as most of the movie is filmed interior, and thankfully the ADHD directing technique so frequently used in modern action films was not evident here, although some of the fights were a little too closely zoomed. Peter Bryant as Chief Barnett was an.. interesting choice for the Captain. He was funny but just didn't have the presence to do the "I aughta nail your arse to the wall!" type of Captaining. Seriously they need to iron out Ronny Cox again for these roles, he was great in One Man Force.
This is a good time. Austin isn't the strongest actor but he brings the beef well enough, and there's plenty laughs to be had (some intentional, some not) and the action is perfectly solid. I'll watch Michael Jai White kick shit anytime, even if it's only in one or two scenes. The gunplay was fine, the use of the tiny budget was well done - there's about three locations in total, and how much can an abandoned warehouse cost to rent? - and the comical bad guys were fun, especially Shanks' hamming it up as Demetrius. Oh, and there's a car chase! Worth checking out.
Well what can I say; it's modern DTV filmed on HD cameras, it looks fine and sharp with no obvious issues. Sounds great as well. Runtime 90 mins. approx.
Region 1 disc hot off the press!