Review: The Sweeney

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Last night the husband and I sat down to watch The Sweeney. It is a 2012 film based on a British television series that was made in the 1970’s, and since I’m an American I had never heard of it before. The Sweeney is about an elite London Metropolitan police unit called the Flying Squad, who try to find the perpetrators of an jewelry store heist in which a woman gets killed. It stars Ray Winstone as DI Jack Regan, who despite some setbacks, refuses to give up on the case.

The main things that impressed me about this film were the fight scenes, car chases and gun shootouts. There are many of them and they are very well done. In Trafalgar Square the suspects rob a bank and Regan and his crew go after them. It’s not done on a set, or at a location that could maybe pass for the famous place; it was actually done at Trafalgar Square. I can’t think of another film that has actually shot an action sequence at that location, so the entire fact that they were able to do that effectively on a relatively small budget is outstanding. It took the director, Nick Love, only six hours to film that entire scene. When you watch the film it’ll make you wonder how the hell did he do that! The whole film looks really nice, which proves that you don’t need a huge budget to make an action film. In fact I would encourage independent filmmakers to watch this in order to see for themselves that a small budget doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the details.

I have always enjoyed Ray Winstone’s performances and this is no exception. The only issue I had at all was that he mumbled sometimes, and since I have only lived in the UK for six months I had issues understanding him. This happens whenever I watch any of his films so it’s all on me and not on him. If you are American I suggest you put on the subtitles; there is no shame in that! Winstone is gruff and tough and totally believable as a cop who will do a anything to get the villains. Ben Drew (Plan B) plays DC George Carter, who is Regan’s main partner in chasing down the bad guys. I am so far removed from popular culture that I had no idea who this guy was until I looked him up. There is a strong tradition of rappers becoming movie stars with mixed results and he is better than average at it, so he doesn’t bring down the film or anything like that. Finally, the last main character is DC Nancy Lewis, played by Hayley Atwell. You will most likely recognize her from Captain America. Her performance is adequate as a tough and sexy police officer. Quite frankly many actresses could also have played this part so there is nothing too special about her. There are many other recognizable supporting actors in this; far too many for me to name. If you regularly watch British films or television shows you will see many familiar faces.

The Sweeney has a pretty good screenplay but there is one major thing that bothered the hell out of me; the fact that Regan and Atwell were having an affair. Winstone is at least 20 or 30 years older than Atwell, so it wasn’t very believable. I know that many films these days have a much older man screwing a much younger woman and they make it seem like a normal occurrence, but it’s not! It’s a sexual fantasy perpetrated by filmmakers that has got to stop! Okay, end of rant! Since I have never watched the television show I don’t know how far off the mark the screenplay of the film is, but as far as original ideas go the story is pretty good. One thing that is different about this is that the top bad guy doesn’t really have many lines in the film. The good guys chase after this fellow and he’s pretty much this shadowy mysterious character. We barely learn anything about him, besides the fact that he’s Croatian. This didn’t really bother me or anything since the film is focused on Regan trying to find the guy.

All in all I can honestly say that I enjoyed watching The Sweeney. Even if you’re an ignorant American like me who has never watched the television series you will like this film. It stands by itself as a good example of a well made action flick.

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