The Sweeney

Dir: Nick Love
Star: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell

As a warm-up, since Chris wasn't aware of the original series, we watched the TV movie pilot that kicked things off in the seventies. Frankly, while the new movie may be louder and shinier, the original was still better, even after forty years of age and despite some well-dodgy fashions. The principal is more or less the same: Regan (Winstone) is a cop who is under observation because of his dubious policing methods, not appreciated by some, despite the positive results. However, when he apparently nabs the wrong guys for a jewellery-store robbery which resulted in a customer being killed, and another attempted arrest leads to a massive gun-battle in Trafalgar Square, the vultures start to circle. So with the help of sidekick Carter (Drew) and the rest of his team, Regan needs to find the truth pronto. Doesn't help matter, that he is also shagging the wife (Atwell) of the very same Internal Affairs guy, who's investigating his practices.

Credit where it's due, given the cost for this was just two million quid, it looks very slick, with the shoot-out is the middle of London genuinely remarkable, simply from the point of view of getting permission. But, despite the presence of Winstone (and, really, we could have done without the sight of him bonking someone 25 years younger), this feels like paint-by-numbers cinema, with the requisite pieces of plot and characters dropped into place from their pre-fabricated moulds. Where it fails most, compared to the original, is simply in terms of character: while the original Regan and Carter felt like real people, their equivalents here rarely rise above stereotypes made flesh. That's especially so with Regan, but what do you expect when you give a white English rapper a leading role in your film? Drew demonstrates they're no better actors than their black, American brothers. Technically solid, and occasionally impressive, the film is still doomed by its lack of heart and genuine emotion, to be no more than a trifle. Unlike its predecessor, there's little or no chance this will be remembered fondly in 40 years.

[April 2013]

You're nicked!
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