The Sweeney: Movie Review
Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Stephen Mackintosh, Damian Lewis
Director: Nick Love
"Put your trousers on, you're nicked."
If those iconic words from an 1970s UK crime series mean anything to you, then you're already likely to know what lies ahead.
Based on the 1970s series which starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman as Detectives Regan and Carter, the Sweeney is a UK film which centres on a rough group of detectives who take out the even rougher criminals. They work for the Flying Squad (hence, the name, based on the Cockney rhyming slang, Sweeney Todd).
In this update, Ray "Hardman" Winstone is Regan and softspoken Cockney rapper Ben Drew is Carter. When we first meet these tough boys of the law, they're taking down a group of armed robbers, by any means necessary.
And it's because of this "think like a criminal to catch a criminal" approach that Internal Affairs, headed by Stephen Mackintosh's Lewis, begins investigating them. Getting a tip off about a robbery at a jewellers, Regan and the Flying Squad are out to get their men - especially after one of the robbers kills a civilian.
While Regan's convinced one of his former troublemakers is back in town, there's no evidence to back it up - but that won't stop Regan from trying to get his man. Even if it means the Flying Squad's future being jeopardised and it could come at the cost of his own career or illicit lovelife as Internal Affairs tightens their
The 2013 remake of The Sweeney is as hard as nails as you'd expect from the calibre of Ray Winstone being involved.
It's also remarkably restrained and tightly directed by Love, who also wrote the screenplay and who is clearly a fan of the source material, with some of Regan's iconic lines being thrown into the script. But it also offers something a little different from what you would expect of a cops and robbers style film in terms of action.
Instead of crowded roads for car chases, The Sweeney offers up alternatives - a car chase down a single country lane and a final face off with the baddies with vehicles hurtling through a caravan park. Throw into that mix, a long action sequence with Regan and two of his squad chasing the baddies across and through iconic London landscapes (ooh, it's Trafalgar Square, ooooh, it's that Art Gallery), it offers something breathtakingly different and is a welcome breath of fresh air in at times tired genre.
Winstone is all swagger, Cockney bloated menace as Regan - though in his scenes with the feisty Hayley Atwell, he brings a real sentiment and softness to the hard bastard of the Flying Squad. Drew also proffers up a toughnut with a loyal side and moral compass as Carter, serving as a much needed foil. Damian Lewis and Stephen Mackintosh deserve some credit too as the suits running the Flying Squad and Internal Affairs (although MacKintosh's storyline simply fizzles out, which is a disappointment).
Overall, The Sweeney has a plot which won't tax you (but somehow manages to get a bit confused) and offers up a couple of storylines which go disappointingly nowhere. However, if you're willing to put your brain in neutral, you may find it keeps you entertained.