Cert 15, 112 Minutes
To boys in the 1970s, the Sweeney was as cool as it got. Forget Starsky and Hutch in their cardigans and college jackets - this was the real deal, with hard drinking coppers battling villains, drinking beer out of glasses with handles and shagging birds. I doubt Ken Hutchinson ever uttered the line: "get your clothes on, you're nicked!" Of course, the 1970s might as well be another planet and a new Sweeney has to choose whether to go period or modern day. With Life On Mars with the epic Gene Hunt largely pastiching The Sweeney of the 1970s, director and co-writer Nick Love decides to set his film version in the modern day, while still trying to recapture that maverick vibe of seventies coppers that are laws unto themselves. The result is a misfire: The Sweeney is a deeply stupid, brutish and charmless endeavour.
|Damien Lewis as Haskins, Regan's boss and Regan himself, Ray Winstone|
|Regan tries to strangle the head of internal affairs. He's also shagging his missus. Classy.|
Regan's only redeeming features are his friendship with Carter and his affair with Nancy. Ben Drew proved in Harry Brown that he's a charismatic and exciting young actor and he's great in this as the laid back but sharp detective. As the film progresses you realise that, while he remains loyal to Regan, he is the brighter detective and the brains of the outfit. Hayley Atwell also shines as Nancy, a character with a bit more to her than merely being Regan's lover. What's refreshing is that it is Nancy who is calling the shots and she definately has the upper hand in their affair. I will warn you however, that Atwell and Winstone share several sex scenes and you may need to book some therapy to help you deal with the sight of Winstone humping away in his white boxers. You may also be struck blind.
Director Nick Love seems to be trying to make a British version of Heat, especially with an extended set piece with Regan and his team chasing masked bank robbers through Trafalgar Square and into the National Gallery. It's an odd parallel world version of London, however, with a conspicuous absence of Londoners and tourists. Its also a London where you can see St. Paul's on both sides of a bridge in one car conversation. The shoot out is staged well enough but is just ridiculous - can you truly imagine the police chasing and engaging in a firefight in a gallery, with no seeming concern for members of the public? The A-Team was more believable than this and, like the A-Team, the villains are bloody useless shots most of the time (unless the copper helpfully lays on the ground). By the end, after endless shots of Canary Wharf, Love runs out of money, with a finale car chase set on a caravan park - yes, you read that correctly. Who needs lavish sets when you can race a couple of cars around some static caravans? Also, if you watched the last series of Top Gear, you'll have seen most of it already, as Hammond and Clarkson were on location with them. A shame Love didn't include some of their mock footage of exploding caravans and car jumps, it would have livened it up no end. If you like by the numbers, uninspiring British crime films then this may be for you. However, if you were a fan of the Sweeney, you'd be better just to order the original series and two spin off films from Amazon.
GK Rating: **