Act like a criminal to catch a criminal
Running Time: 112 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom
The two main target audiences of the new adaptation of The Sweeney couldn’t be more diametrically opposed – those who were fans of the cult 1970s TV series and those who know who Plan B (aka Ben Drew) is.
Unremarkably for a film about Cockneys being ‘ard down South, it’s Nick Love who’s dragging The Sweeney kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The Sweeney are the London police’s heavy long arm of the law who (poorly) deal with tackling violent crime and armed robbery. These guys – lead by Jack Regan (Winstone) and his sidekick George Carter (Drew) – are loud, cocky and very underhanded as they break the rules to try take down the bad guys but themselves become the object of the attention of Internal Affairs.
Winstone and B do have a fair bit of chemistry and it could have been seen as a major coup by Love in getting the musician to cross over once again but for Drew’s painful delivery of lines where he comes across as a little special needs. They’ve also got some nice gritty overhead shots of London, only for them to be used in a way that doesn’t quite fit in with the overall style of the movie. Then there are some scenes that should be impressive, like a unique shoot-out in Trafalgar Square, but end up so undercooked and poorly executed because of streets that seem almost deserted and chase scenes and gun fights that are too one dimensional. All this builds up to a list of things that should and could have worked but didn’t.
The Sweeney is sometimes intentionally watchable and very often unintentionally so as it all seems a lot more tongue in cheek that it actually is (I’m pretty sure Love has no sense of humour so I’m confident there’s no irony to it at all).
It's Got: Some good chemistry between the leads, Love doing humourless Cockneys being hard
It Needs: Better integration of it's arty parts, a lead actor who can act, more extras
Alternatives:Hot Fuzz, Miami Vice, The Firm
More Hot Fuzz than credible cop thriller, The Sweeney is a long list of missed opportunities. If you desperately want to watch cops behaving badly, tune into the classic TV show on UK Gold instead.