The Sweeney is based on a British television series from the 70’s with the same name. The film follows the exploits of London police officers in the Flying Squad, a special arm of London’s Metropolitan police that specialize in armed robberies.
In terms of plot, there isn’t much here that you haven’t already seen. Jack Regan, a cop who doesn’t play by the rules, gets more than he bargained for when an innocent woman is executed during a jewelery heist. His job is made all the more difficult when his team’s practices are put under the microscope by an internal investigator. Furthermore, Regan is sleeping with a married woman.
Ray Winstone, in full bad-ass mode, stars as Jack Regan, the leader of this tight-knit crew that enforce the law while almost working above it. Winstone has made a career out of playing tough guys and he chews up the screen as this tough-as-nails cop that prefers baseball bats to guns. He uses his imposing persona well and gives us a gritty protagonist to follow.
The rest of the cast are quite good. Ben Drew (Harry Brown) holds his own alongside Winstone and gives a gritty, layered performance as Regan’s young protégé. Presumably cast to cash in on his Homeland hype, Damian Lewis ends up being mostly wasted in a pointless role.
Wild cops, smug bad guys, shoot outs, car chases and some good old fashioned stakeouts – it’s all here. It may be pretty simple stuff but most of it is handled quite well. The direction is smooth and the editing is slick. Director Nick Love (The Football Factory) handles the action with flair and manages to keep the film British while infusing an Americanized style of filmmaking. Lorne Balfe’s intense score is good but there’s more than a whiff of Hans Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack (he’s worked alongside Zimmer many times, most recently he provided additional music for The Dark Knight Rises).
At its worse points The Sweeney comes across as a bad television film. The dialogue is full of generic one-liners that simply point out the formulaic nature of this type of movie. The clichés and plot holes are pretty obvious but they can be overlooked if you’re able to switch the brain off for a while.
The movie progresses at a brisk enough pace to keep you hooked and there are some exciting moments scattered throughout. The pivotal shoot-out/chase scene at the center of the film is an excellent sequence that seems to be highly influenced by the one in Michael Mann’s Heat.
The ending feels more like a tacked on action sequence than a proper resolution – but that’s the kind of flick this is. If you can overlook the tiresome elements of the formula and understand some of the heavy cockney accents then you should be able to have some fun here. It’s a violent cop procedural that doesn’t pretend to be more that what it is.
Released on DVD and Blu-ray 21st January 2013 in UK / Pre-Order now for release on April 2, 2013 in US
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Rating: R (for violence and language throughout and some sexual content)
Director: Nick Love
Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Damien Lewis
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Distributor: Vertigo Films
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/TheSweeneyMovie
[Written by contributor Guillermo Troncoso]