Yes, this is a sequel, and no, you probably don’t remember the original. Never fear since the original was a highly budgeted, star-filled, TV remake clunker, and this “sequel” has zip to do with that one. Well, almost nothing. It does have a SWAT team in it. That counts for something.
Much of Firefight is a series of mundane training exercises because those are far cheaper to shoot than any complex, choreographed shoot-outs. We’re introduced to a Detroit SWAT team under new management, Paul Cutler (Gabriel Macht). He’s from L.A., a tough trainer who wants his crew to be the best for a certification test.
Sadly, there’s a Terminator after him in the form of Walter Hatch (Robert Patrick). He has a little bi-polar issue, just trying to blow up the SWAT team that he blames for the death of his girlfriend. No biggie. That becomes the central plot, yet not until a staggering 40-minutes into the movie. That’s when the first phone call comes in to Paul from Walter and this thing finally gets going.
Regardless of any obvious threats and non-sighting from Google Maps (?), the training must go on, and no matter what director Benny Boom (Boom… seriously?) does, it’s not interesting. He tries first person views, flash edits, scenic Detroit locales, added noise, and various filters. The material simply isn’t exciting.
In fact, it’s a total waste of time. As the team heads out for their final call, a jumper on a rooftop that couldn’t be any more obvious a set-up unless they read the script, they defy every order they’ve ever been given. They turn stupid, splitting up as individuals, failing to access the situation, and end up being picked up one by one because nobody is there to help. Brilliant move guys; glad to see all of the training meant something.
Like nearly all of these recent direct-to-video clunkers, Firefight was shot digitally. The cheapness dominates almost every frame, from rampant visible compression at 37:35, smoothing at 1:07:08, and just general muddiness caused by black crush, it’s all here.
No, the transfer isn’t all bad. Sony’s AVC encode generally handles what it is given the best it can. Close-ups are clean enough when speaking in general terms, producing some relatively fine, crisp detail. Low light or not, if the camera is shoved in an actor’s face, there’s going to be something in the realm of pores or other piece of definition visible.
Inserted at various points of the movie are quick SD clips, the worst of it at 25:56 during a wall repel sequence. The lackluster resolution produces an ugly layer of aliasing and obvious decrease in quality that is distracting. Those first-person views mentioned earlier do the same, although these tend to be quickly edited out of view before the distraction becomes severe.
Color is muted and plain, flesh tones even a bit ghostly at times. Interiors are usually drab gray or color corrected to exaggerate room lighting. The best stuff comes outdoors in training sessions, the Detroit parks featured outside of Ford Field delivering pleasant greenery.
This isn’t exactly a DTS-HD mix to remember, but the sound design is strong enough to create a couple of moments that aim to please. Guns are of course the highlight here, aggressively pushing bullets into the stereos as effectively as the rears. They become a presence even during a training session 20-minutes in. Movement is strong and accurate.
When this is all finally put into place for actual real-world application with a hostage situation inside a carry-out at the hour mark, it takes over. There are more shots fired, products lining the shelves pop from impact, and the sound is quite specific to the visuals. The same goes for the final run through an abandoned building at 1:16:40, where wood begins shattering with each shot. It adds an extra layer beyond the gunshots.
Where the whole thing collapses is bass, mostly because it doesn’t have any. Shots fired exist as highs only, even the massive sniper rifles. They offer no low-end impact whatsoever. The conclusion to the film ends with a multi-floor explosion which seems to barely even touch the sub. Weak.
Unless you consider trailers and BD-Live access extras, the only thing here is a making-of titled Sharp Shooting. It’s typical studio stuff, including a look at training and location scouting.