Jan 272013


Sometimes to beat the big league criminals, you need to get a little dirty. The Sweeney are the dirty little secret of the London Police. They get the job done, but at what cost? Review of The Sweeney after the jump.

Based on a 1970s television series of the same name, The Sweeney follows the flying squad officers (otherwise known as The Sweeney) as they use rather questionable methods to bring down some of London’s biggest criminals, focusing in particular on high-stake robberies. The squad is led by moral-free Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and his number two, former street thug George Carter (Ben Drew). Overseen by Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins (Damian Lewis), the squad constantly crosses the line to enforce their own special blend of justice.

When a robbery goes particularly wrong, the squad believe that a nasty criminal they thought retired, is back in the business. They set out to bring those they believe responsible down, no matter what the cost. While this is going on they also have the probing eyes of  Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) from Internal Affairs to worry about. He isn’t too happy with how the rogue unit operates, and he has cause to have  particular issue with the behaviour of one Detective Inspector Jack Regan.

the sweeney

This film is dreadful. This plot description has probably done the film a service, because in reality it is almost unwatchable. This Sweeney are not only the most incompetent police ever in the history of the police, but they use such awful [illegal] methods to get what they want, that they are often indistinguishable from the so-called bad guys. They’re dirty cops with dirty attitudes, and yet the film expects the audience will get behind them? I’m sorry, no.

Ray Winstone is nothing short of skin-crawling, as the sleazy squad leader. He croaks his lines out in an attempt to sound tough, but mostly just comes off sounding a bit thick. The film also wants you to believe that a beautiful women would have an affair with him. Take a look at Winstone in canary-yellow underwear and then look me in the eye and tell me that’s attractive. There is nothing sexy about this whatsoever.

While the other cast do a serviceable job, the story is so ridiculous that it doesn’t matter at all. It attempts to twist and intrigue the audience, but you’re so flabbergasted by the outrageous and incompetent actions of the police that you really don’t care any more. I wanted the square Internal Investigations officer to take them all down. The TV series may have been edgy and enjoyable in its time, but it simply doesn’t work today. It comes across as irrelevant and rather sloppy.

One final comment must be made about the soundtrack/score, which was so absurd that it caused people (myself included) to laugh at how ill-fitting it was. It was as if sections were lifted straight out of Inception or The Dark Knight Rises. This film does not have the balls to carry that sort of score. Winstone certainly doesn’t earn the right to have “BRRAAHHMMMM” booming as he walks in the room.



By Sam McCosh


The Facts

Director: Nick Love
Writer(s): John Hodge, Nick Love (screenplay), Ian Kennedy Martin (source material)
Starring: Ray Winstone, Damian Lewis, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: February 14 2013; New Zealand: February 28 2013; USA: March 1 2013