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S.W.A.T.

The Action Behind The Action
Another undeniable attraction to police dramas, according to S.W.A.T. director Clark Johnson, is the action. "There's nothing quite like the adrenaline pump you get from a great car chase, a spectacular explosion, or a death-defying feat," he says. "That's really what it's all about. But in order for it to have true impact, you have to be invested in the characters as well."

Producer Neal H. Moritz is no stranger to breathlessly exciting action films with XXX and The Fast and the Furious among his most prominent credits. For S.W.A.T. he turned to Johnson, a veteran of the police action genre on television. For several years, Johnson was an actor, and eventually a director, on the acclaimed series "Homicide: Life on the Streets." He then went on to direct episodes of "NYPD Blue," "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit," "Third Watch," "The Wire" and "The Shield," among others.

"When we first started talking about making this movie, we wanted it to show both the honor of being a S.W.A.T. member and the danger," says Moritz. "We really needed someone who could take us into that world. When you look at Clark's body of work, you see that he's always been able to take situations and make you feel like you're actually in them."

Johnson came to the project well versed in the realities and challenges of police drama. His award-winning work as a director of critically acclaimed police series, along with his earlier background in special effects, provided him with the technical and logistical ability to effectively handle the film's demanding schedule.

He could also boast of having played "so many cops in my career as an actor, that I know more about cop work than some real cops do," Johnson laughs. That hands-on experience proved to be invaluable in shaping the scenario for S.W.A.T. Although inspired by the ‘70s television series, the only similarity to the motion picture is four of the character's names -- Hondo, Street, T.J. McCabe and Deke -- though the filmmakers do pay homage to the series in subtle ways. Steve Forrest, who played Hondo on television, makes a cameo appearance as a S.W.A.T. truck driver and Rod Perry, who played Deacon, returns as his character's father.

"As we were working on the script," says Johnson "I would ask questions as if I was an audience member --- such as ‘how would a S.W.A.T. team board a plane with hostages on board?' We did research and it led to one of my favorite scenes in the movie, a training exercise aboard an old plane in the Mojave Desert. We show, step by step, how they go in there and defuse the situation without harming innocent bystanders. It was a great deal of fun showing the audience how the team functions."

Another question Johnson asked was "if you can't get inside a house safely, how do you catch the perpetrator?" The answer was simple: You use a ‘molly,' which Johnson describes as "a device that looks like a giant fishhook and once it penetrates the wall, yanks it out from the inside."

"If you're going to make an action movie about S.W.A.T. you should come away knowing more about what these guys do," he continues. "And it should be plausible. Even in the finale, where we land a Lear Jet on a bridge, we checked with the FAA and the Lear Jet company and came up with th

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