In densely populated regions of the United States, SWAT teams are elite tactical units employed by the police to perform counter-terrorism or hostage retrieval missions. The term itself stands for Special Weapons and Tactics. In the opening scene of Tactical Force -a new film starring former WWE wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin- the SWAT team, led by Austin, are called into a supermarket hostage situation. On this mission, their ‘tactics’ involve running straight at armed suspects, pushing them into stack of cans and the ‘special weapons’ in question are Austin’s fists. One of his partners uses a BB-gun to take out a baddie and remarkably, no-one is killed.
What happens next comes straight out of every cop film: the chief chews out Austin’s unit for needlessly endangering civilians and the SWAT team laughs this off in a way that suggests that they probably shouldn’t be policemen. Instead of being fired and jailed, their punishment is to go on a training mission in an abandoned warehouse. Unbeknownst to them, this warehouse is where an eclectic group of gangsters have planned an exchange. That’s right: the gangs have chosen to do their business in an ACTIVE police training facility. Trapped in the building without live ammunition, Austin’s group of maverick cops engage in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the mobsters.
Obviously shot on a budget -a good chunk of the film takes place in an empty warehouse- Tactical Force also manages to be a lot of fun: the bad guys are ridiculously accented (and prone to making some truly awful decisions) and the salty one-liners don’t feel out of place at all. The fight scenes owe more to the recent explosion of mixed martial arts than it does to professional wrestling and the stars/stuntmen are more than capable of delivering the body blows.
Despite having appeared in a few films including last year’s The Expendables, Stone Cold hasn’t become the household name that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is, but his beer-swilling good ol’ boy persona translates quite well to film. It’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing him in any romantic comedies anytime soon, but he could easily find himself fitting into more movies like this.
Don’t get me wrong: Tactical Force is an utterly ridiculous film – but it knows it is and plays to that strength. It’s a perfect one to rent on a Friday night when you and your mates just want to drink beer and shout at the telly. Now give me a hell yeah!*
*This was one of his wrestling catchphrases. Sadly, it will mean nothing to most of you.