Review: The Sweeney

Something about crime drama set in Britain just irks me.

Adapted from the 1970s television show of the same name, The Sweeney follows two of the more unconventional police officers in Britain, whose lack of regard for authority has them running out of allies while hunting down a devious criminal.

The film is a classic cops-and-robbers scenario but with a twist; our heroes are not the clean cut, law abiding officers. They use any means necessary to catch criminals, and their commanding officer Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) sees no problem in how his unit operates. But the higher ups look to undermine him at every turn, and his dogged nature means he won’t quit.

Ultimately this is the meat of the show, but unfortunately the film doesn’t provide any great sustenance for the characters. The villains are unremarkable and cardboard, while Ray Winstone… well… I imagine he is playing himself here! Certainly if you have a problem with Winstone’s past performances I recommend you avoid The Sweeney; this is very much his film.
… I don’t know who wanted to see him on the big screen in his boxers, not once but twice, but I know I didn’t ask for it…

The gun battles that run consistently through the film aren’t shabby, the music isn’t bad either and the action is shot nicely so you can see what’s happening, but it doesn’t feel like it escalates. It feels as though the film has one setting; gruff and dogged, and it doesn’t do anything else (a bit like Winstone himself really)

I don’t know, it didn’t grab my attention, and looking back at it I wish there was more backing to the characters and their personalities, especially with Ben “Plan B” Drew’s character George. His character could have had an interesting arc but we don’t get to see his origin; it is explained in rushed exposition instead.

Maybe if you knew the original television show there might be more comprehension, but as it stands The Sweeney isn’t memorable and remains very average in my eyes.

Additional Marshmallows: Also, I cannot help but be reminded of UK television’s Top Gear having a humorous episode shot around the filming of The Sweeney and thinking how that was better.

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