The Sweeney

The Sweeney


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

British television is steeped in tales of cops and robbers, from the charm of Dixon of Dock Green through to regular doses of The Bill, with tales of good cops, bad cops and everything in between the lynchpins of primetime drama.

It seems remarkable then that Nick Love and co-writer John Hodge have failed to hang this update of the much-loved John Thaw and Dennis Waterman series on a decent narrative framework. Here, Flying Squad veteran Jack Regan and his younger colleague George Carter become embroiled in what initially seems like a robbery gone bad but which begins to have more serious overtones. This is all of little concern to Love, however, who is much more interested in airing every catchphrase from the Cockney Guide To Cop Cliche while darting between action scenes as quickly as possible.

Copy picture

The perfunctory plot is much less of a serious crime than The Sweeney's worst offences, however - that it feels dated and, for all its surface gruffness, pretty daft.

Ray Winstone throws his sizeable weight - an issue that provides just about the only sniff levity in the script - into Regan. While he's always good value and there's nothing wrong with his 'earthy' approach, he feels miscast. He may be supposed to have a dinosaur-like attitude, but at 55, he seems too old to seriously cut it in the Flying Squad and his romance with Nancy (Hayley Atwell) makes May to December look like a weekend.

Plan B - or Ben Drew, as his mum likes to call him - struggles to make an impression with Carter. His tough-guy act feels exactly that, we need to believe he is a danger junkie but he looks as though dinner and a glass of wine would be more his scene.

Love does make a decent attempt at gritty realism with a spot of stainless steel flair on what must have been a tight budget and the action scenes are enjoyable enough, even if we don't care enough about what happens to the characters. But the film ultimately flounders because it simply isn't credible. Love may have plonked his protagonists in the modern world but they still feel trapped in a long-gone era, when police brutality was commonplace and women knew their place. It's a dislocation that fatally wounds enjoyment.

Reviewed on: 12 Sep 2012
Share this with others on...
The Sweeney packshot
The Flying Squad investigate after a robbery turns sour.
Amazon link

Director: Nick Love

Writer: John Hodge, Nick Love, Ian Kennedy Martin

Starring: Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Paul Anderson, Allen Leech, Alan Ford, Steven Mackintosh, Steven Waddington, Kara Tointon, Paul Blackwell, Ed Skrein, Caroline Chikezie, Allan Corduner, Nick Nevern

Year: 2012

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Search database: