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Film Review: The Sweeney


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Most of us are far too young to remember even re-runs of the original TV show of The Sweeney - but everyone's heard of it. The original hard-hitting cop show was the first of its kind to show a world of police who were less than perfect.

For the 2012 remake, director Nick Love has brought the franchise bang up to date, but not without sacrificing some plausibility.

In the 1970s coppers who bent laws, beat up criminals and had a total disregard for beurocracy were what lent the show its authentic air. To a contemporary audience all too aware of Ian Tomlinson and the accusations levelled at the Met in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, it doesn't quite ring true.

The new film opens with The Sweeny crashing an armed robbery and taking out the criminals with baseball bats. It later emerges that Regan (Ray Winstone) stole a significant amount of gold bullion from the scene, although he never suffers any repercussions.

A later scene involves a shoot-out between cops & robbers playing out across a Trafalger Square packed with people, impressive in its execution but implausible to a modern audience.

The plot is weak and difficult to follow, centering around Regan & Carter (Ben Drew) hunting down an old nemesis of Carter's, whilst also doing battle with the paper pushing Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh.)

Although it tries hard to be gritty and dark, the film relies too much on brooding shots of London tower blocks and Ben Drew's accent to come close to the grim realism of movies like Snatch or Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.

Handicam shooting and over-zealous use of cockney slang fail to rescue a plot which is very Hollywood in its flimsiness. After Carter goes rogue and attempts to break up the gang on his own, the only consequence for him is pats on the back all round and the return of his badge and gun.

If you're looking for a decent British action film it isn't a bad choice, but the lack of realism lets down what could have been a really excellent film.

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