An old police show remade to fit modern standards. In 2000 it happened to Charlie’s Angels and in 2006 Starsky and Hutch were modernized. The Sweeney is the next one, cause this British tv-show from the 70’s has gotten a remake movie style. Even an actor that had a part in the show in the make love-not war era is in the new flick. This is a very modern version, with a lot of black outfits and even more F-bombs.
The Sweeney reminded me of Sweeney Todd, the crazy (and singing!) barber played by Johnny Depp. Though The Sweeney has no references to the horrormusical, the name has some resemblance. Sweeney Todd is Cockney slang for Flying Squad, cause it rhymes. And a Flying Squad is a group policemen that is focussed on dealing with roberies, because they go in and out very swiftly and they travel everywhere to reach their goals.
Enough background story, let’s talk about what this movie is about. The guy that played in the original series is Ray Winstone (Hugo, Snow White and the Huntsman) and in this movie he is the key character Jack Regan. Regan is not the manager of The Sweeney, but he does kinda rule over the group. The manager would be Frank Haskins, played by Damian ‘Brody’ Lewis. Haskins lets the team do their thing, cause The Sweeney knows how to gets the big fish.
But they don’t catch them by using old school tools. Nope, they use baseball bats when they are not nearly letting a man drop off a building during interrogation. When you work for The Sweeney, you totally get away with that stuff, as long as the criminals are put behind bars. The team does that well, and that is what I liked most about the beginning of the movie: the team is put together very well. Like most action movies, the group is introduced to the audience through an action sequence, but afterwards we see policemen celebrate and we learn what kind of people we are dealing with and what their relationships are like. That is very refreshing, as most movies are about one to three people instead of a group.
The Sweeney: an expensive project
Unfortunately that group feeling does not last too long, which has many reasons. It is because Ivan Lewis (played by Steven Mackintosh, Underworld) a guy within the police corps thinks that The Sweeney is just an expensive project, Lewis is looking Achilles heel of Regan and he does anything within his power to close the department. What he does not know, is that his wife is sleeping with Regan night after night (or toilet visit after toilet visit..). That woman is Nancy Lewis (Hayley Atwell from Captain America: The First Avenger) and she is part of the Flying Squad too. It is a pity that affaire is such a big part of the movie, but it is refreshing to see that a very young woman has an affair with a pretty old and not specifically attractive man, especially as her beauty or his age is not really commented on. Okay, she does find him a bit fat and thinks he should idet, but that is pretty modern right?
The focus is not just on the three people in this love affair setting, it is also on the ambitious guy George Carter (Ben Drew, Harry Brown). Specifically at the end of the movie he is an important character. In the rest of the movie there is not a lot of group feeling, because there is big case to be solved and we do not really get to see the other squad members anymore.
And that is not the only weird twist in this movie, there are more things that seem a bit odd. There is an incident, where Regan finds out who did it based on nothing. He just goes through his files, sees some images that complete his opinion and all of a sudden the guy is a suspect and should be arrested. It is just loose ends, going from one totally different thing to another. Not everything is handled as well by Nick Love (The Football Factory): the writer and director. I am wondering if he puts television movie-esque filters and camera work in the movie on purpose. This is how the movie feels. It is a movie you accidentally come across while switching channels after being annoyed by all the sports talk in De Wereld Draait Door. That is not specifically negative, cause if it actually were such a movie, it could have been a nice surprise.
The Sweeney is not great, but it is a movie with an interesting story and sometimes some weird twists and turns combined with interesting action sequences. There is a long Heat-like shooting scene between two groups of people in the middle of the streets of London. London is the location of the movie and that is an excellent choice. The beautiful city that hosted the Olympic Games a few years ago, looks amazing in this movie. Love made sure he uses a lot of shots of building from above, and he really made an effort of showing Londons best. The Sweeney would have been a good option for an evening on television, but as cinema movie and dvd it is not as promising.