Tactical Force (Blu-ray)
Directed by Adamo Paulo Cultraro
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p VC-1 codec
Running Time: 88 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
Region: not designated
MSRP: $ 29.95
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Review Date: August 4, 2011
After causing extensive damage in a supermarket in performing a routine rescue operation of hostages from a holdup, a Los Angeles S.W.A.T. team lead by Captain Tate (Steve Austin) is sent to an abandoned airport hangar to engage in retraining exercises using weapons loaded with blanks. Unknown to the four-person team, an exchange of a stolen item (never named or shown – the ultimate in McGuffins) is going on in that same hangar involving the toady Kenny (Michael Eklund) playing the Russian mob led by Demetrius (Michael Shanks) against the Italian mob headed by Lampone (Adrian Holmes). Trapped inside with useless weapons, Tate and his team members Hunt (Michael Jai White), Jannard (Lexa Doig), and Blanco (Steve Bacic) must use both brute strength and moxie to find ways around the heavily armed and vicious gangsters who only want to make sure there are no witnesses left once they leave the airport.
Writer-director Adamo Cultraro really should have taken another few runs at his script since as written there’s no plausible way the police team should have been able to escape in the manner we see them doing. Often, Tate simply stands in the line of fire against the Russians and Italians with automatic and rapid-fire weapons and time after time they manage to hit all around him but never even wing him. (This also happens late in the film when Russian assassin Ilya Kalashnikova (played by Candace Elaine) stands up in a van and fires point blank at a car following her as they fire back with machine guns without her even suffering a scratch.) How much more interesting would it have been if this tactical master could have concocted something to distract the mobsters so he could make a legitimate escape? Tables get turned routinely from one side to the other (during the film, the police, the Italians, and the Russians each gain momentary advantage only to squander it stupidly especially since the gangs are all ruthless killers and yet postpone executing their captives ridiculously). There is plenty of gunplay and many hand-to-hand combat scenes between the good and bad guys, but the fighting is rather prosaic and the outcomes utterly predictable. Cultraro also resorts to that age-old cliché of picturing deaths in slow motion (of course, even with all of the slowdowns, the movie still doesn’t make it to a ninety-minute running time).
Steve Austin proves once again he can be the laconic tough guy in control of his team, and he’s certainly got the muscle power to be convincing in the many fight scenes (the climactic encounter pits him against Keith Jardine who’s playing an Italian but seems much more Russian in look and manner). Michael Jai White is an able second-in-command, his own fight scenes equally demonstrative if similarly predictable. Steve Bacic is actually the most entertaining of the quartet of S.W.A.T. members, so his early exit from the film robs it of some potential fun. Lexa Doig makes for a very unconvincing tactical team member, neither proficient in shooting or fighting. Adrian Holmes is a most unusual Italian mobster, clearly not the usual stereotype for this kind of movie, but his machismo seems more artificial than Michael Shanks’ ruthless Russian and less enjoyable, too. Michael Eklund’s weasely Kenny seems legitimate in voice and manner though he doesn’t earn the eleven o’clock surprise the writer-director pulls on the audience (again cheating through extremely poor writing).
The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the VC-1 codec. Sharpness is never a problem, and there is plenty of detail in facial features and the textures of the leather clothing that many of the cast members sport. Color is rather average in saturation and impact, and Caucasian flesh tones have a way of varying during the movie from pink to slightly purple and then to more accurate hues. Black levels are solid throughout. The film has been divided into 8 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does not exploit the tremendous amount of firepower in the movie through its available soundfield. Gunfire is pretty much relegated to the front soundstage with Michael Richard Plowman’s driving, thumping score providing the only true surround envelopment in the movie. Dialogue, usually but not always clearly audible, is rooted firmly in the center channel. The LFE channel does get some work with a couple of major explosions which occur during the film.
“Inside Tactical Force” is a 10 ¾-minute featurette with Steve Austin, Michael Jai White, and Keith Jardine each talking about his involvement in the project. Scenes are shown of the staging and shooting of several of the fight scenes in this 1080p featurette.
“Fight Sequence” is something of a misnomer as it’s actually a jam-up of all of the movie’s fight scenes in a 2 ¼-minute montage. It’s in 1080p.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs for 1 ¼ minutes in 1080p.
2/5 (not an average)
A generic action movie that could have been so much more with some cleverer plotting and more dynamic use of the available talent, Tactical Force may please fans of the stars or action junkies, but it really isn’t special enough to justify a purchase otherwise.