(UK - 2012; 2013 US release)
Directed by Nick Love. Written by Nick Love and John Hodge. Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Damian Lewis, Steven Mackintosh, Paul Anderson, Alan Ford, Steven Waddington, Kevin Michaels, Ronnie Fox, Caroline Chikeze. (R, 110 mins)
This big-screen version of the popular British TV cop show that ran from 1975-1978 didn't really win them over in the UK, but in the States, where it's much less familiar and without the baggage of appealing to a massive fan base, it can be appreciated more on its own modernized terms. Aside from one legitimately great 15-minute action/chase sequence at the midway point, there's nothing at all inventive about the big-screen SWEENEY. The script by director Nick Love (OUTLAW) and former Danny Boyle collaborator John Hodge (SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING) recycles pretty much every "plays by his own rules" Hollywood cop movie cliche imaginable, but despite that, THE SWEENEY still entertains with action, suspense, humor, outstanding use of London locations, and the smart decision to just let the entire project rest on the broad shoulders of the great Ray Winstone, easily the burly badass bloke you'd most want on your side in a bar brawl.
Winstone is veteran detective Jack Regan, who leads an elite robbery investigation unit known as "The Sweeney." Known for their disdain of proper procedure, laws, and basic rights in general, the Sweeney handle things their own way, often relying on clubs and beatdowns in the occasional instances when they aren't shooting first and asking questions never. They're generally left alone because they get results, but uptight, desk-jockey Internal Affairs head Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) wants to bust Regan--not so much for his ways but rather, Regan is having an affair with Lewis' estranged wife Nancy (Hayley Atwell), who's also a member of the Sweeney. When a woman is senselessly killed in a jewelry store heist, Regan recognizes it as the M.O. of past nemesis and international criminal Francis Allen (Paul Anderson). An investigation leads them past Allen to a trio of Serbian nationals who have been carrying out jobs in the style of Allen, knowing it would get Regan's attention and draw him into their orbit.
THE SWEENEY works almost entirely due to the mighty screen presence of the perfectly-cast Winstone. He even manages to sell the idea that the much-younger Nancy would be interested in him, though that's due almost as much to Mackintosh's performance as the prickly, weak Lewis. Regan isn't a particularly nice or even a good guy on the surface (he steals gold bars from a bust in order to pay off his informant), but he gets the job done and he takes care of and looks out for his people. He's got no use for bureaucrats who sit behind a desk all day and has no problem getting in the shit with those he supervises, so it's easy to see why he's so admired by the members of his team, especially second-in-command Carter (Ben Drew, better known as British rapper Plan B), who's torn between his devotion to Regan and being groomed for a bigger position with the force by the manipulative Lewis.
|Winstone! And other Sweeney!|