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The Sweeney

The Sweeney

Released 12 September 2012
Director Nick Love

Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Steven Mackintosh, Allen Leech, Alan Ford, Kara Tointon, Caroline Chikezie
Writer(s) Nick Love, John Hodge

Allan Niblo, Rupert Preston, James Richardson, Christopher Simon, Felix Vossen
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 112 minutes
Genre Action, crime, drama
Rating 15A

Daylight robbery.

On paper, The Sweeney sounds like it could be one of two things. Either a hard hitting police drama about how unlimited power can corrupt those who are supposed to be upholding the law. Or a modern parody of the less than politically correct policing methods of seventies cops. But this is a film directed by Nick Love (The Firm), so unfortunately it is neither. Instead, it’s a witless, sub Guy Ritchie mess of unpleasant cockneys, head-butting people and growling, “You’re nicked.” Characters that deserve to be thrown out of the police force (and polite society for that matter) are presented to us as heroes while being genuinely unpleasant to little old ladies.

A modern day re-imagining of the series which starred John Thaw, The Sweeney follows a unit known as The Flying Squad, which specialises in foiling armed robbery. Head of the squad is Regan (Ray Winstone), a hardened cop with a hatred for authority. His loyal crew include protege Carter (Ben Drew) and married lover (Hayley Atwell). Here’s where I should say what the film is about but I’m a bit hazy on that one. What I can say, is that a suspicious murder happens during the robbery of a jewellers, resulting in some very knuckle-headed sleuthing and a lot of bellowing. Really though, it has a narrative that is less coherent than Revolver, in which nobody seems to have a motive for their actions.

As catastrophic as such a plot might be, it’s not the real reason that the film doesn’t work. That, is down to Ray Winstone’s Regan, who is utterly hateful. A boorish, violent, corrupt idiot. Supposedly he gets away with murder because he’s so good at his job but there is little evidence of this here. On the contrary, in the course of the film he endangers the lives of many innocent bystanders while engaging in more illegal activity than the villains of the piece. Why we’re supposed to like or root for Regan is beyond me. He is, quite frankly, a bit of a bastard; a humourless version of Gene Hunt from Life on Mars, who was lovable despite his faults.

Nick Love though, is not playing any of this for laughs, resulting in a charmless mess of a film.

- Linda O’Brien