The Sweeney was a cop drama that ran for four seasons in the 1970s in the UK. Ive never seen it, so I cant tell how faithful the 2012 Sweeney is. I can only judge it on its own, and its a fantastic crime thriller.
As Jack Regan, Hugos Ray Winstone leads the Flying Squad, an elite police force that gets results, but at the risk of tripping numerous inquiries from Internal Affairs. Regan doesnt give a flip what reactions are triggered by his actions, so long as the bad guys are nabbed with his signature catchphrase, Youre nicked!
Annnnd if he happens to pocket a short stack of gold ingots at the site of an armed robbery he and his team just foiled, well, then, so be it.
The bulk of director Nick Loves film centers around the Flying Squads investigation of a jewelry heist in which one young woman loses her life. Their primary suspect is Francis Allen (Paul Anderson, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), a career thug with paramilitary ties.
Notable among Regans team are his wiry protégé, George Carter (Ben Drew, Harry Brown), and Nancy Lewis (Hayley Atwell, Captain America: The First Avenger), a much younger married woman with whom Regans having an affair. Allen Leech is another notable, but only because hes now a Downton Abbey son-in-law. Other squad members arent integral to the story, which could explain why Love and co-scripter John Hodge (Trainspotting) dont bother to introduce them.
Thats really OK, because Regan, Carter and Lewis are given lots to do. The Sweeney is, first and foremost, an action film. To that end, the movie begins with the aforementioned robbery foiling and ends with a car chase (staged by TVs Top Gear guys) through a trailer park. Somewhere in between is a Heat-style shootout in public that would do Michael Mann proud as would the numerous shots of cityscapes and night-driving.
None of the three primary actors would ever be considered Hollywoods idea of an action hero especially the chunky, wrinkled, mid-50s Winstone and that may be why the film didnt connect with American audiences during its limited run in theaters this spring. However, its exactly those upended expectations that are part of The Sweeneys appeal. Winstone is the real grit atop the movies considerable sheen.
This is the first disc Ive seen in 2013 that I immediately wanted to replay. It wont be everyones idea of an ideal crime film lets face it: Some people just cant get past accents but those who respond to it should join me in hoping to hear Regan utter Youre nicked! again. Rod Lott