It’s fair to say that director Nick Love has built up somewhat of a tarnished reputation, having been behind some rather critically panned, clichéd cockney thrillers – an unfortunate reputation shared alongside his regular leading man Danny Dyer. So how can Love free himself of such a tag and move on? Well, to re-create the 1970’s hackneyed television series The Sweeney of course. On the plus side, at least he’s dropped Dyer.
The Sweeney are a flying squad, tackling violent crimes and robberies on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Force in London. Head of the squad is the hardened, unsentimental Jack Regan (Ray Winstone), who given his ruthless approach to his line of work is under investigation from internal affairs, led by Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) and boss Frank Haskins (Damian Lewis). Little do the pair know, but Regan is having an internal affair of his own, with the former’s wife and member of The Sweeney, Nancy (Hayley Atwell).
Despite countless threats aimed at Regan to kick him out of the squad, the seasoned professional has his eye on one final mission, in an attempt to uncover those behind the armed robbery of a jewellery store and murder of an innocent bystander. Alongside the skilled and upcoming officer George Carter (Ben Drew) Regan and co. begin their chase, with notorious criminal Allen (Paul Anderson) on the top of their list of suspects…
Perhaps it is down to the fact The Sweeney is based upon a series that aired roughly 40 years ago, but Love has managed to present his latest picture in a traditional manner, as the film feels old-fashioned and loyal to the cop-drama genre – in a good way. We have car chases, public shoot-outs and unromantic sex scenes, all played over the top of a conventional murder mystery plot. However the early stages of the feature are relatively boring, yet as the plot thickens, as does your interest, because as soon as the main plot kicks in, The Sweeney becomes an unadulterated, and fast paced action thriller. There are faults to be found, of course, but you certainly can’t falter The Sweeney’s ability to keep you engrossed and entertained throughout.
There are few actors you’d rather see take on such a role as Regan, than Mr. Ray Winstone. He brings a degree of assurance to the role, yet you never truly feel as though you trust him, which adds more layers to not only the character of Regan, but to the overall film. I think we’re supposed to like Regan, but not me. He’s a liability and too hot headed. I’m siding with internal affairs on this one. Down with The Sweeney!
Meanwhile, Drew, otherwise known as Plan B - stands out as Carter, once more portraying his potential to go far on this side of the industry, possessing some charm about him, as well as the ability to know how to act, which helps. Atwell also impresses, yet she has the misfortune of having to partake in arguably some of the most unsexy sex you’ll see on the big screen in good long while. Between herself and Winstone, the pair simply have little to no chemistry between them, devaluing an otherwise integral piece to this story. Our protagonist has just got to have a love interest – it’s just a shame we don’t believe in it.
In Love’s defence, he has done well with this picture, as although maintaining that clichéd, London cockney vibe that often comes across as being out-dated in contemporary cinema, it just works in this instance, and the corny one-liners seem fitting, rather than damaging, as Love stays faithful to what the film stands for. Those wanting to see The Sweeney know exactly what they’re getting themselves in to, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Meanwhile, there are disappointing numbers in the Ray Winstone “Shlaaag” count. I only counted him saying it on four occasions, which is pretty low by his standards.