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Sweeney, The (DQ)


Stars: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Damian Lewis, Steven Mackintosh. Paul Anderson, Alan Ford, Steven Waddington, Kara Tointon

Director: Nick Love

An action-filled, bone-cracking but extremely unlikely retread of the 1970s cult TV police thriller series, with three times the violence and all the other hardman elements TV could only touch on.

The film's biggest asset is Winstone, as the ageing, corpulent Jack Regan, monolithic team leader at Scotland Yard's Flying Squad, who gets results but pays off snitches, and arms his men with baseball bats and pickaxe handles, all the better to beat fleeing suspects to a pulp. Winstone is perfect casting (just as he was as Magwitch in TV's Great Expectations) and might have been born to play this role too, even if his sex scenes with the gorgeous Atwell are about as improbable as the plot and a bit more embarrassing.

Unfortunately, though, Drew (as George Carter), although a top rapper and director of promise, clearly has a lot to learn about acting and Lewis is miscast as their boss. Lewis is an enigmatic actor and that's just not what this part calls for.

Meanwhile, Atwell happens to be the wife of Mackintosh, as a desk-pounder who's assigned to run the rule over Regan and his boys to detect any irregularities. Hostility is instant.

The plot is almost incidental to all this, but includes a mass shoot-out in Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery (just as well there's no one around) and Winstone going to prison for operating while suspended. Surely he'd just be sacked? But why is he so unpopular with the warders? And why would Lewis order him to abort the pursuit of three desperadoes who have just pulled off a bank heist?

No, very little of this makes any real sense, and the Sweeney's operations are so slapdash you wonder how they ever track down criminals like mastermind Francis Allen (Anderson fresh from his portrait of Piggy).

Still, you get the impression that director Love feels that none of this matters too much, and that the action is all that counts. You, know, he could be right at that.

David Quinlan

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment-One (Vertigo Films). Colour by Panalux.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 09 Sep 2012