Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Expendables UK Week - Movie Review: The Sweeney (2012) Dir. Nick Love

Get your trousers on - you're nicked!

The Sweeney by Nick Love
3.5 out of 5 stars

Blurb: The Sweeney is an action-packed British police thriller from the director of Football Factory. Jack Regan (Ray Winstone), a hardened cop who doesn’t play by the rules, is confronted with a criminal from his past. With sidekick George Carter (Ben Drew aka Plan B) they are put on the case of a jewellery store heist that ends in a killing. But is that killing really an execution in disguise? With pressure from his boss and the fact that Regan is having an affair with that boss’s wife, it’s not going to be easy for him to stay out of trouble.

Thoughts: I don't think there is anyone as surprised as I am to discover that this is actually a pretty decent movie with some innovative direction from Nick Love.

First a little disclaimer if you will: The Sweeney is Ray Winstone playing his typical role but this time he's nine tenths good guy. Go in to this movie expecting people to be called "slags" at every opportunity, "cunts" every now and then and a fair amount of physical violence and you're on the right track. If this doesn't float your boat then really you may as well not bother.

I think I've seen a fair few of these movies over the years, enough to be able to spot a steaming pile of excrement or one of those really dull generic films that most recently have "starred" Tamar Hassan and I sort of expected the same from this remake of a classic British cop show from the 70s. Nick Love isn't exactly known for setting the world on fire with his attempts to expand his film making repertoire.

The Sweeney is essentially the British version of the Michael Chiklis run strike team in The Shield, a police force that bends the law and occasionally breaks it. Ray Winstone is a total badass in this role despite his age, and every time he calls someone a slag I was in movie heaven.

One thing that isn't mentioned is why they are called The Sweeney, the answer is cockney rhyming slang and requires you to know that they are The Flying Squad (confusingly they don't have planes, or even wings), that Sweeney Todd is the first generation slang for it and the derivation of The Sweeney will naturally follow in a pattern of speech designed to make things take longer to say but spoken by lazy people.

The film is a fast paced, adreneline ride as Winstone and his team investigate a bank robbery/murder and it is directed with some skill by Nick Love. He avoids the usual American cliches, even at times drawing attention to the fact that they are stupid - witness a car chase that involves one car trying to ram another and failing miserably - and he shoots London in a way that you rarely see in film. His London isn't dirty, cramped or full of cockney geezers. He shoots from the air, showing London in the same way as New York, beautiful and romantic. It was a real pleasure to see. Even his police station is bright and airy. Very cool.

This was very close to getting a much higher rating but sadly there were a few issues for me. The plot wasn't exactly innovative, the music was overdone and there's a shootout in Trafalgar Square that whilst cool to begin with (idiot criminals unable to shoot Uzis aside) it goes on for far too long and I stopped paying attention. It's a strange complaint to make I know, but the action sequences slowed down this "action" movie.

For what this movie is, it's pretty much everything you could want. It's not going to win awards but it's bloody great entertainment.

Ever been called a slag? Fan of the original show and dissatisfied with the lack of Inspector Morse in this? Leave some blah below.


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