Based on the famous tv show from the 1970’s and having spent years in development hell, this summer sees the long awaited release of Nick Love’s (The Firm, Goodbye Charlie Bright) THE SWEENEY with Ray Winstone (Scum, The Departed) stepping into the role of Jack Reagan and Ben Drew (aka Plan B,Ill Manors) as his sidekick and protégé George Carter.
After a jewellery store robbery ends in murder, Reagan and Carter set their sights on the illusive and eel-like Allen played by Paul Anderson (The Firm, A Lonely Place to Die) as they chase, race and debase a variety of London locations.
Regan has many plates to keep spinning as he attempts to nail Allen. He walks on thin ice with his boss Frank Haskins played by Damian Lewis (Homeland, Band of Brothers), keeps Steven Mackintosh (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Mo) as Ivan Lewis (who is investigating the Sweeney) at arms length, and romances Lewis’ wife and fellow Flying Squad member Nancy played by Hayley Atwell (The Duchess, Captain America).
The film starts in top gear and never slows down to take a breadth during its 112 minute running time. A breadth or two, could have and should have been taken to finesse the plot which at times feels a little (quite a bit) rough around the edges, much like Reagan’s gruff persona and facial hair. Without spoiling anything, it is somewhat funny in a film with tonal and stylistic aspirations such as this, that it ends in such an off piece manner. The climatic ending takes place in a location that messrs Pegg and Frost would indulge in if they decided to make Hot Fuzz II – Back to Brighouse Bay! That said the film looks great, much has been achieved with the touted £16 million budget, and it shows, the product placement ranging from Apple products to WD40 is less than subtle.
Shortcomings aside, wonderful turns from Winstone and Drew create believable and likeable central characters who you route for, despite their questionable behaviour. Allied with this is a consistent tone, sumptuous colour palette, superb action set-pieces and an excellent soundtrack. In doing so Nick Love has created a thoroughly enjoyable action adventure with legs for future visits from the Flying Squad.
The Sweeney is back with a Dolby digital surround sound induced bang that grabs you by the jugular and never lets go. Recommended even if instantly forgettable.
Rating: 3 / 5
words by david rushe