Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 5 of 5

S.W.A.T. (PG-13) Veteran TV director/actor Clark Johnson makes good with his big-screen directing debut with an adaptation of the 1970s cop show that lags in some parts and proves anticlimactic in others. Samuel L. Jackson leads a team of newly-recruited quasi-loose cannons, including Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez, in guarding a vaguely international criminal (Olivier Martinez), who offers $100 million to anyone whom can spring him. Non-stop action ensues when every criminal in L.A. takes him up on the offer. Training Day it ain't, but in a summer full of overblown sequels, S.W.A.T.'s simple cop-flick formula is a nice relief. --AS

SWIMMING POOL (R) A standoffish English mystery writer (Charlotte Rampling) and her publisher's trampy French daughter (Ludivine Sagnier) become mismatched roomies in Francois Ozon's psychological thriller. The actresses give emotionally and physically revealing performances (Ozon seems besotted with Sagnier's lithe form) and the titular pool becomes a supple symbol of the human psyche. The thought-provoking final twist can't compensate for some routine ideas about releasing inhibitions or the film's lack of confidence with its melodramatic turns. Swimming Pool spends too much time splashing around in the shallows. --CH

THIRTEEN (R) Former production designer Catherine Hardwicke makes her impressive, volatile directorial debut in this girl-focused anti-Kids focused upon the complex relationships that back-drop teenage self-destruction. This lacerating, powerful tale of a good girl (Evan Rachel Wood)'s descent into drugs, sex, shoplifting and self-mutilation under the faster-pussycat guidance of wild girl Evie (Nikki Reed) was based on Reed's own damaged California childhood in the fast lane. Hardwicke's smart direction gives it a sense of social urgency. --FF

UNDERWORLD (R) Kate Beckinsale's pistol-packing vampire gets the hots -- or whatever vampires get -- for werewolf-to-be Scott Speedman, in defiance of their species' century-spanning feud. Less Romeo meets Juliet than Anne Rice meets The Matrix, this sleekly-shot but confusing supernatural shoot-em-up scarcely even gives us a good look at the werewolves. It's like watching a drawn-out Marilyn Manson video, but the final third becomes so absurd, it's fun to howl at. --CH

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    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

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