Writer/director Adamo P. Cultraro’s “Tactical Force” opens inside a grocery store during a daring albeit poorly planned armed robbery. In order to dispatch one of the goons who has taken a handful of civilians hostage, a SWAT officer — portrayed by professional badass Michael Jai White — takes down one of these nefarious villains with a 1965 Red Ryder BB gun. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then this might be the greatest direct-to-video actioner to grace your high-definition television screen all year. However, if you laughed aloud and/or openly mocked this bizarre little scenario, perhaps you should move on to greener cinematic pastures. After all, it honestly doesn’t get much better than that. Unless, of course, you count the copious amounts of slow motion. Which, for the record, I don’t.
To tell you the truth, it’s this level of absurdity, this blatant disregard for believability that forced me to enjoy “Tactical Force”. It’s definitely not the most polished STV action flick you’re likely to encounter, and Steven Austin still can’t deliver a line without sounding as if he’s just recently encountered the English language. Be that as it may, the film is overloaded with a vast array of shoot-outs, explosions, and intense hand-to-hand fight sequences, all of which help ease the film’s hackneyed storyline into your brain without causing serious physical side effects. A predisposition for nonsensical action is a must, as is an extremely high tolerance for the cinematic work of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Look out, Steven Seagal: Austin’s got his eyes on your spot as the most prolific direct-to-video brawler currently on the market.
The plot is suitably simple: A small group of rough-and-tumble SWAT officers, having been properly scolded by their angry captain for dealing an absurd amount of damage to civilians during their last mission, are forced to revisit the basics of police procedure. In order to get the group to where they need to be, these easy-going rapscallions are sent to an abandoned military hanger in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Once there, a series of basic maneuvers will be executed, all of which will incorporate the use of practice ammunition. Gee, I certainly hope a group of heavily-armed bad guys don’t show up out of the blue and challenge our heroes to a gunfight. Whatever will they do in such a perilous situation? Not surprisingly, it doesn’t take very long for things to take a serious turn for the worse.
As it happens, a small collection of sophisticated criminals have chosen this spot in which to engage in a very complicated exchange. Before these colorful villains can get down to business, they’re rudely interrupted by one of the aforementioned badasses, an intrusion that ultimately claims the poor bastard’s life. Suitably irritated by the sudden, unexpected loss of their team member, our remaining heroes must utilize every wonky skill in their dodgy set to escape with their lives intact. Along the way, however, they’ll take the opportunity to deal some extreme direct-to-video carnage to prospective audiences, though most of it you’ve seen before to greater effect in other, more accomplished motion pictures. Will our heroes make it out alive, or will these witty, fast-talking antagonists take down the toughest SWAT team in the country?
Imagine if the “Police Academy” series had been written and produced by the WWE. That’s “Tactical Force” in a nutshell. Every line of dialogue is impossibly goofy, and each one is delivered as if the respective actor is well aware of how utterly brainless this entire production truly is. That having been said, it’s hard to fault a movie where Michael Jai White names his grenade launcher after his mother, especially when its accompanied by one of the most cringe-inducing one-liners I’ve heard in quite some time. Everyone seems to be having fun with the material, a fact which makes some of the picture’s weaker moments easier to endure. Steve Austin, meanwhile, is just Steve Austin; like Michael Jai White, the former wrestler has his own unique one-on-one showdown, a sequence tailor-made for his brutish approach to hand-to-hand combat. It may be formulaic, but it’s certainly never dull. Which is good, of course.
There isn’t really much to say about “Tactical Force” that you don’t already know by looking at the DVD artwork. For a straight-to-video action flick, it’s a few notches above the vast majority of its contemporaries, thanks in part to the cast’s willingness to give their characters a sense of humor. Fans of this sort of stuff, especially those who don’t mind a little tongue-in-cheek goofiness with their explosions, will probably enjoy it the most, while casual moviegoers may fault the flick for wallowing so heavily in the trough of cinematic cliches. Michael Jai White and Steve Austin have both done better work, and it’s painfully clear that neither is breaking a sweat when it comes to the fight sequences. However, “Tactical Force” is a lot of fun, and, taken a face value, should provide action buffs with 90 minutes worth of solid entertainment.
Adamo P. Cultraro (director) / Adamo P. Cultraro (screenplay)
CAST: Steve Austin … Tate
Michael Jai White … Hunt
Lexa Doig … Jannard
Michael Shanks … Demetrius
Darren Shahlavi … Storato
Candace Elaine … Ilya Kalashnikova
Adrian Holmes … Lampone
Keith Jardine … Tagliaferro
Steve Bacic … Blanco
Michael Eklund … Kenny
Peter Kent … Vladimir