At the start of this year I made some ‘Film Resolutions’; one of them was to watch films as recommended to me by friends. So I posed the question on Facebook and was hit with 10 titles to start me off.
One of them was this film. My friend Shelly is a fan of all things Ben Drew a.k.a. Plan B, and this is his new release. It’s a film I would get around to eventually; the process was just brought forward by however long it would take before it appeared on Sky Movies.
The Sweeney is a film based on the UK television series of the same name that aired in the UK on ITV between 1975 & 1978. I’ve only seen clips, so cannot compare the two stylistically. All I know is that they share three character names; Jack Regan, George Carter and Frank Haskins. Along with car chases and some phrases; ‘Shut it!’ & ‘Put your trousers on, you’re nicked’.
I’m fairly open minded when watching films, but I’ll admit to some reservations as it started. There’s a heist of some sort and The Sweeney (Sweeney Todd > Flying Squad) are making their way to it in order to stop the bad guys. They arrive and all hell breaks loose, people are getting shot, others getting beaten up and one suspect runs off, chased by Carter played by Drew.
There’s a funny moment where Carter is lagging behind the suspect and he throws the axe handle he’s carrying at him, he misses but it made me laugh in a good way. They seem to be in an office block, there’s a tussle and out of nowhere appears Regan played by ‘cor blimey geezer Ray Winstone. I sat puzzled at this, how did this overweight man get up there so quickly and how did he know exactly where to go? But I let it slide because it’s ‘cor blimey geezer Ray Winstone.
Despite the fact that every time The Sweeney attempt to capture suspects, one inexplicably gets away and runs off, meaning a foot/car chase by either Carter or Regan, I actually enjoyed this.
There are other problems, there is a sexual relationship between two of the characters and I actually burst out laughing at their first encounter, firstly at the absurdity of the characters involved and secondly from all the grunting.
Then there is the fact that these Police boys and girls are supposed to be highly trained in combat and tactics, and yet at each standoff with bad guys one of them will stand up, walk out of cover and into the path of bullets.
One of them played by Allen Leach (who also plays Branson the chauffer in Downton Abbey, nice touch to have him driving a car in the first sequence) is involved in a foot chase through a building, chasing after two guys with automatic weapons. Rather than take it slowly, he gets to a corner but instead of sliding up to it and looking around, he carries on and well I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
Other than Regan, Carter and a lady cop called Nancy, all the other characters are inconsequential. Damien Lewis pops up as Haskins but doesn’t really do much; I think he was cast just for the American market who watch him on Homeland. Steven Mackintosh is perfect casting as Ivan Lewis the weak & powerless internal affairs cop who has a grudge against Regan, but I never felt as if anything was going to happen, although there is just time for that oft used cop film cliché; badge & gun.
As I read that back I have no idea how I managed to enjoy it enough to give it 4 stars but I really did. I think the silliness of it, plus the action, plus ‘cor blimey geezer Ray Winstone & Ben Drew (who I also like) made it an enjoyable romp of a film, and one I’d happily watch again.
4 out of 5 – Highly recommended