Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Counterforce



COUNTERFORCE (1998)

Directed by: Martin Kunert
Written by: Rick Bloggs & Alan Schechter
Starring: Robert Patrick, Michael Rooker & Louis Mandylor

Using the tense, nail biting, running gun battle from Heat as inspiration and framing several such shootouts around the story of a renegade SWAT squad out for justice, Coutnerforce rises above it’s b-movie trappings to be a tense and enjoyable ride. Realistic and hard hitting gun battles are staged with skill, as Michael Rooker’s cop obsessively tracks down an underground, vigilante police squad headed by Robert Patrick. The seasoned actors bring a bit more edge and intensity to preceedings which transform this story into a riveting action ride.

The main reason to check out Counterforce is for its impressively staged gun battles. From the opening raid on a mansion, to an attack in a night club using night vision, the shootouts are performed using realistic tactics. Proper stance and formations are shown during the action scenes, the gunfire loud and tense. All participants must continually reload and there is a bare minimum of over-the-top heroics that is the custom in many action films. This gives Counterforce a refreshing spin and the action scenes contribute to the narrative rather than just feeling shoe horned in. A sequence involving snipers at long range meaning their bullets reach their targets several seconds after they are fired is particularly memorable, as is a running fire fight in an airport and the tense ten minute finale when two sets of SWAT teams fight one another using automatic weapons.



Things falter with several plot contrivances and certain “why did he do that?” and “that would never happen” instances as Rooker’s character pushes his tough cop attitude to almost ridiculous lengths. He’s still good, just hampered with too many gruff cop clichés. Patrick on the other hand is excellent as the chillingly cold SWAT leader who believes he is doing the right thing, even when killing other cops. His stare and lack of dialogue help make him a memorable and menacing character.

Plot holes and the odd cliché aside, Counterforce is solid entertainment with several standout action scenes. The end also packs quite a punch. Treading similar ground to Magnum Force, SIS: Extreme Justice and Scarred City, Counterforce is a welcome addition to the rogue cop genre and recommended to those who like their action real and full of firepower.

Also known as Renegade Force, Rogue Force and, bizarrely, Six Angry Men.

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