We finally have the long-rumoured big screen adaptation of ‘The Sweeney’, which in the past has had everyone from Jason Statham to Ewan McGregor attached. Directed by Nick Love (‘The Firm’, ‘The Business’), what can we expect from the 2012 update starring Ray Winstone?
Jack Regan (Winstone) is the reckless but effective leader of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Flying Squad’ (aka ‘The Sweeney’), a special force designed to deal with high profile criminals by any means necessary.
Alongside his close friend and promising young detective George Carter (Ben Drew/Plan B), the squad’s controversial methods are tolerated by their superiors. However, when Regan is framed by a crime lord (Paul Anderson), both he and Carter go outside the law for revenge.
Fans of the series may be left a little disappointed by the new direction, as ‘The Sweeney’ is essentially a cockney action movie. With swearing, bullets and car chases, it’s a Michael Mann movie with a ‘Lahndan’ accent.
That said, Love makes the capital city look like a million dollars- rather than being holed up in a grimy pub, our heroes wander Canary Wharf and have shoot-outs on Trafalgar Square.
This may not have an awful lot of depth to it, a fairly straight forward ‘framed cops out for revenge’ story is all we get, but in exchange for this originality void we are given plenty of bang for our buck. As 'The Daddy' of cockney crime movies, Winstone is in his swaggering element as Regan.
However, he feels about ten years too old for the part; while it’s not preposterous to see him beating men half his age to a pulp or having a rather odd looking sex scene, you do struggle to take it seriously at times.
Similarly, it makes the relationship with Carter (played with confidence by Ben Drew/Plan B) into more of a father/son one, which never completely sits right with the tone of the film.
Of the support, Steven Mackintosh and Paul Anderson are very effective as Regan’s foils either side of the law, while Damian Lewis is an apt choice for the new Haskins.
Sensationalistic, brash, and with little if any resemblance to the original series, ‘The Sweeney’ nonetheless does the job it sets out to do. A British movie that captures all the hallmarks of a Hollywood blockbuster, director Love creates a snarling, ultra-macho action movie that will leave fans of his previous films in raptures.