Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Damian Lewis
Running Time: 112 Mins
Extras: Behind the Scenes of The Sweeney, Preparing The Sweeney, Shooting in Trafalgar Square, The New Regan and Carter, Top Gear and the Caravan Park, On the Shooting Range, Animated Storyboards, Audio Commentary with Director Nick Love and Producers Allan Niblo and Chris Simon.
If you’re going to do a remake of an iconic and beloved TV cop show from way back when, here’s a tip: don’t get Nick Love (OUTLAW, THE BUSINESS) to write or direct it; Another tip: don’t cast rap-artist-turned-actor Ben Drew (AKA Plan B) or grizzled hard-man thespian Ray Winstone as your two leads Carter & Regan when it’s quite obvious they have no chemistry whatsoever; And one other tip: don’t look to the dismal and downright awful THE SWEENEY for any kind of inspiration whatsoever.
Bearing absolutely no resemblance to the vastly superior television series, apart from the title, THE SWEENEY is the kind of mindless, chauvinist fodder that will no doubt please the sort of folk who look upon Lads Mags as if they were Time Magazine. A bog standard cop drama plotline wastes no time in getting stuck into some violent over-the-top action, then cruises down a road of tacky setpieces and dreary character drama.
You could be mistaken for believing Nick Love had never seen an episode of THE SWEENEY before. In the show, Regan was a loveable rouge; a cop who played hard yet never strayed too far over the edge of the thin blue line. Here though, Regan is an arrogant and selfish bully, who is near enough as corrupt as the villains he aims to put away. The ‘romantic’ subplot detailing Regan’s affair with a much younger co-worker (who also happens to be married to his nemesis in Internal Affairs) does little to lighten or endear us to his character – if anything, it only serves to make him all the more repulsive and hateable. The final straw though comes much later when, during a tedious chase/gunfight scene, he furiously yells at a scared, innocent civilian to “get down you c**t!!!” Hardly this year’s most loveable hero (or even anti-hero, at that)!
There’s absolutely nothing to commend THE SWEENEY for: Nick Love’s script is just a collection of swear words and obscenities, with some bare basic plotting and ineffectual action scenes thrown in for the sake of variety, whilst the only acting Ben Drew seems to do is to act as if he gives a f**k (which, judging by the results on screen, seems a bit of a stretch for the poor dear). Winstone, Lewis, and Atwell do their best with what little they’re given, but it’s a thankless script full of thankless roles, and none of them are served at all well.
Nick Love has taken the original, innovative concept of THE SWEENEY and turned it into yet another generic guns ‘n’ tits movie. The end result is a collection of samey bits and pieces (guns, blood, violence, lovely looking women doing nothing much except removing their clothes) that will have mindless, misogynistic film fans foaming at the mouth, as well as other regions.
So that’s Nick Love sorted, what’s everyone else having instead?!
Extras: Not available at the time of going to press, but there’s a ton of featurettes (including one that looks at how the crew of TOP GEAR got involved in shooting the climactic car chase), as well as storyboard comparisons and a commentary with the producers and Nick Love, which sounds just as hard to stomach as the film itself.
The Sweeney is released on DVD & Blu-Ray in the UK 21st January.