* Prices may differ from that shown
There are some things in life you just don’t do. One is to offer beard trims in Isis controlled Iraq and the other is to remake and update politically incorrect 1970s television series. Unless it’s purely tongue-in-cheek comedy stuff like Starksy & Hutch and Hot Fuzz then leave it guvnor! I can’t think of a worse one to remake as a serious modern day version than The Sweeney. They actually made the movie of the series 25-year-ago, when they should of. It’s like remaking Dads Army with Toby Jones or Minder with Shane Ritchie. Ah! The whole point was its 100% of its time. Rising Damp and Steptoe & Son movies made in 1978 and Job done, put it to bed. Life on Mars nailed it as a clever and inoffensive ironic send up of the un PC cops and that should have been it.
Casting wise Ray Winstone as Jack Regan was no real surprise and, dare I say it, somewhat lazy, but Ben Drew - a.k.a, Plan B - as George Carter a risky one, a young man who really doesn’t have the gravitas and experience to be trusted with a movie like this. But the budget was limited (£3 million but they only spent £2 million and it shows) and a she speaks full Cockney he got the job. I would have gone for Jason Statham and Clive Owen and a more tongue-in-cheek version but there you go. Ray, as you would expect, was an extra in The Sweeney back in 1976, the episode Loving Arms’, if you are interested.
To help with the funding, the presenters and production team from Top Gear assisted in planning and filming the car chase scene though narrow country roads and a caravan park for one of their shows. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were credited as stunt performers on the movies credits. Yes, that Top Gear episode you saw did actually include some of that segment in the film. Jeremy doesn’t like caravans.
• Ray Winstone as Detective Inspector Jack Regan
• Ben Drew as Detective Constable George Carter
• Damian Lewis as Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins
• Hayley Atwell as Detective Constable Nancy Lewis
• Steven Mackintosh as Detective Chief Inspector Ivan Lewis
• Allen Leech as Detective Constable Simon Ellis
• Steven Waddington as Detective Constable Nathan Miller
• Caroline Chikezie as Detective Constable Kara Clarke
• Kara Tointon as Megan Barret
• Alan Ford as Harry
• Nick Nevern as Freddie
• Paul Anderson as Francis Allen
• Kevin Michaels as Makin Trebolt
Regan (Winstone) and Carter (Drew) have been busting one too many heads of late in London towns Flying Squad and currently being investigated by Internal Affairs, Jack also under suspicion for taking bribes. The chief investigator, Detective Chief Inspector Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh), hates Reagan and will hate him some more when he finds out Jack is knobbing his misses, fellow flying squad member Constable Nancy Lewis (Hayley Atwell). But they have nasty villains on the run in Reagan’s manor at the moment when an innocent girl is executed during a robbery in a jewelers shop and so Jack and George indifferent to boss Detective Inspector Frank Haskins (Damian Lewis) requests to calm it boys.
Number one suspect is safebreaker Francis Allen (Paul Anderson), who has been off the scene for a while but left a familiar forensic calling card at the crime scene. After roughing him up they are no further making a nick as Allen has a solid alibi. But Eastern European Pink Panther style robber Makin Trebolt (Kevin Michaels), known for topping women to get his kicks, doesn’t have an alibi and now the new number one suspect. Problem is Regan and Carter are still refusing to obey the politically correct laws of policing in 2014 and soon taken off the case, Regan in a far worse place than Carter for his future policing career. This one is personal.
Instead of making a British film we and the Americans might like, British director Nick Love tries to impress those Hollywood studios he courts by making a hackneyed American cop action movie they have seen a million times before, but with a Cockney accent. Love, as ever, sticks it on the anvil and hits it very with a blunt instrument until cliché sparks fly. A director who cut his teeth in East London ‘chav culture’ has one basic method of filmmaking and no compromise. Don’t get me wrong, The Business is a cult cockney crime classic, but flops like Outlaw and The Football Factory point to a guy out of his league with a bigger production. 7 films in 13 years over 3 decades may suggest he is not in demand by the big studios.
It’s a surprise that this is as naff and Americanized as it is as Kennedy Martin, the original creator of the 1970s Sweeny series, is on board as co-writer to Love. Ben Drew, alas, is embarrassing here. He is supposed to be this chav made good through music and now a genuine talent whereas to me he is still just a chav trying to act. Winstone plays its hard as John Thaw ever did but misses the point by being too serious. Damien Lewis does get the point and takes the piss of his character all the way through. The movie blithely repeats most of the clichés of the American badass-cop flick genre and you just get bored. It’s too dramatic and noisy for its south of the river claustrophobic locations and the dialogue as clunky as the Iron Giant typing out his CV. First its original £3 million budget it did £4 million back and a sequel no where in sight. One to avoid folks!
In a world where remakes and reboots are popping up more frequently, this often clashes with the drive many directors have to make their productions darker, grittier and more adult. Many will probably assume this fate has been given to The Sweeney, a 2012 update of the 1970s TV show. But in actual fact, those who watched the two Sweeney films produced will actually note that these contained a higher level of violence and nudity compared to the show, as the Movie-space allowed more flexibility in this regard compared to TV. That being said, Nick Love's reimaging of the show is a different beast, as it can feel more like an overstretched TV show. It is also dragged down by a lacking script and uninteresting acting.
After preventing a robbery in a warehouse, the Flying Squad celebrates in awe of their successful bust. But things go downhill quickly, as the squad is under watch from Internal Investigations. This is all worsened by the fact that squad leader Jack Regan - played by Ray Winstone - is not only stealing loot from robbery scenes in order to pay his informant, but also having an affair with the wife of Steve Mackintosh, the boss of Internal Investigations. This comes to a head when an investigation begins over a robbery turned violent. The plot is entirely predictable, lumbering around for a good hour until things pick up with some obvious, but fast-paced, plot twists. Many will be able to easily follow the story, and it will never tax the brain cells.
The Sweeney's origins are within the Television space, and in a way Nick Love's update of it resembles a TV episode stretched to nearly 2 hours. This mostly in regards to how the film plays out: much of the film slows down to demonstrate police procedural as Winstone and crew investigate the robbery which, itself, doesn't come into play for a good chunk of the film. Up until then, you are forced to watch character development as we gain an idea of which character fits into which role. Winstone is explosive and a dirty cop in every sense of the word, while Plan B's Carter is almost the complete opposite for a significant chunk of the film. The problem is that none of the characters feel that interesting or even likable, and the film consequently chugs along at a slower pace while Love attempts to fill out the middle parts between each action set piece.
This is due to the fact that no one gives a particularly notable performance. Winstone does somewhat standout, mainly because he's regurgitating the role he always plays: the hardnosed thug who doesn't take any business. It can be entertaining to watch, but as he utters a phrase "I'll hit you so hard" - which isn't too distant from threats he's dished out in other films - you can't help but feel a sense of déjà vu. On the other hand, Plan B should stick to music. His performance is artificial, dull and completely poor. He fails to add anything to the movie, which hurts considering a good 20 minute chunk of this film focuses on him. There's plenty of other talent here, including Haley Atwell and Damian Lewis, but the script fails to bring out any of the talent out. The lead actor of Homefront should not be so dull!
Perhaps The Sweeney's only saving grace is that, when it decides to kick it into gear, the film is actually somewhat entertaining. The car chases stand out, echoing something like Bullitt (though not to that level of quality, of course) with quick cuts inside and outside the car while maintaining a steady camera unlike recent films. There are some queasy moments of violence, such as Winstone shooting someone's hand or Plan B shoving a pistol into someone's wound, and they stand out amongst a wave of dull characters and an underwhelming script. A tense bank-robbery scene which comes around the mid-point of the film is exciting, and lasts a good 20 minutes, making it the high point of the film. No doubt, the action scenes are bolstered by solid choreography and well-shot scenes of our fair London City, creating a sense of immersion.
That's the thing: The Sweeney feels like a movie of constant highs and lows. Many of the best scenes really are fun, especially the aforementioned Bank Robbery chase through London. These moments immerse you, but then you are knocked out of this with the force of a sledgehammer by sloppy scenes. The script isn't believable, highlighted by an early scene with the team celebrating with perhaps some of the most inane dialogue I've heard. Love also haphazardly tries to re-create the show, particularly with Winstone's character. He tries to imply that Reagan has some kind of sex appeal, enticing Haley Atwell - which is about as believable as Brett Ratner winning a Best Director Oscar - into an affair, with not one but two uncomfortable scenes of sex between them. Not something you want to be watching while eating.
So the best way to think of The Sweeney is if the hit 70s TV show was warped, twisted and violently dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Nick Love poorly tries to mix nostalgia with modern tropes, and none of it comes together smoothly. On the plus side, its story is easy to follow and it has some punchy action scenes, tight choreography and well shot moments. But this is all crushed by the fact none of the film is believable: characters feel like cardboard cutouts, with a flimsy script which doesn't challenge any of these actors' abilities. Love tries to imply Winstone has the same level of appeal as his 70s counterpart, which is totally silly. Those who can tolerate thin characters and dumb dialogue may find joy in its action scenes, but otherwise this is easily avoided.
I had planned to see a friend last night but as money is tight for me at the moment we decided to get a dvd and stay in. We actually rented the dvd from blockbuster but it is available to buy for around the £10 mark. The film is based on a tv programme of the same name but as I have not seen this I can't compare the two. This is a film only review.
Jack Reagan is a well established cop. He is known in the force for his hands on tactics and much as these are widely frowned upon there is no argument that he achieves results. His partner is George Carter and although he too employs some hands on tactics he manages to stay on the right side of the boss - most of the time. Jack on the other hand will never see eye to eye with the boss and to top it off he is also sleeping with the bosses wife, Nancy.
Jack takes things a step too far when he disobeys orders and he is sent to prison. However, a need for his unconventional tactics and a push from George sees Jack released for one last job.
I had seen this film advertised but didn't know much about it. I thought it looked like it might be a decent watch but I was definitely swayed when I saw it had Ben Drew in it who is better known as musician Plan B. I am a huge fan of his so this definitely drew me in!
I found the film had a good opening and I was hooked on the storyline very quickly. I was skeptical that the film might be a bit too boyish and violent for my personal tastes but it wasn't too bad.
I did like the character of Jack but I definitely wasn't drawn to him and in all honesty most of my attention was focused on George who is played by Ben Drew. I loved the character and felt that he gave a fresh approach to Jacks tactics which often came across as quite dated. He was young and ballsy and had turned his life around from one that seemed to be quickly spiralling out of control as a teenager to a police officer. I thought this was a brilliant idea because initially I was concerned about how Ben Drew might take on the role - in real life Ben has spent time behind bars and therefore I wondered if his interpretation of the police may have been slightly one sided. However I thought he did a great job portraying George and I really enjoyed his performance.
I enjoyed the plot and thought that it flowed well and with ease. I found there was a lot going on in the film but this was all centred around one main event. I was captivated throughout and never found myself wondering how long was left.
The settings were realistic, well thought out and visually stunning. There is a car chase scene that my friend told me had received a lot of good response and I found this an exciting part of the film.
The ending was done well and I found that there were a number of surprises and small twists that I wasn't expecting. I felt that the ending wrapped up the story perfectly and when the credits rolled I was really pleased we watched the film.
The film was released in 2012.
It was directed by Nick Love.
It stars Ray Winstone and Ben Drew.
It runs for 112 minutes.
Both myself and my friend really enjoyed this film. I would definitely recommend it.