Based on the Thames Television series of the seventies, The Sweeney follows the Flying Squad, a branch of the London Met Police force who investigate armed robberies. Add a dash of cockney rhyming slang to flying squad, you get Sweeney Todd, you get the drift.
The 2012 reinvention sees Ray Winston (last seen as a dwarf in Snow White and the Huntsman) in the role of Inspector Jack Regan, while Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew is his ever loyal sidekick George Carter, who seems to have been rescued from a life of crime by Regan. While the ‘Sweeney’ get the job done, they don’t always go by the rules of the law and Carter’s past gives him an insight into how the bad guys work.
The unit is threatened with closure by Lewis (Steven Mackintosh), whose wife Regan also happens to work with and oh, is having an affair with. The Regan character seems set in his ways, he knows how to do his job and doesn’t particularly like being told what to do. So, when the awful realisation occurs that he may have the wrong man, it’s a bitter pill.
Directed by Nick Love (The Firm) who also co wrote the screenplay with John Hodge (Shallow Grave / Trainspotting), The Sweeney is dirty, gritty and real and is a refreshing change from the CSI stylings of many US counterparts. It also gives a great look at the family nature and camaraderie of the unit. The Sweeney beautifully uses London as it’s setting, it’s not just another location. Scenes of gun fights are excellently written into buildings and well known areas of the city.
Ben Drew keeps growing in stature as an actor and ‘Carter’ is easily the most accessible character here. Winston plays the loner/womaniser ‘Regan’ well but his stony exterior is tough to crack and is a little hard to warm to. You want the team to succeed but knowing Regan isn’t always the good guy makes Carter the guy you want to come out clean rather than Regan not get caught.
Your scribe can’t remember the original, now cult TV show, so there are no references. But this isn’t a remake. It’s a reinvention of an idea brought up to date with modern days ideas and scenarios. Great fight scenes, great car chases (you may have seen Top Gear help with the filming of one) and a great script moves the story on nicely. An enjoyable 112 minutes which leaves the door open for a sequel. I dare you not to leave the movie theatre speaking in a cockney accent for the rest of the day.