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United Kingdom 2012
Directed by
Nick Love
112 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
1 stars

The Sweeney

Synopsis: Detective Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) is the lead investigator of the Flying Squad (rhyming slang Sweeney Todd, hence The Sweeney). With his offsider George Carter (Ben Drew) they fight crime with a vicious intensity that make them hard to distinguish from the men they arrest.

I don’t really know where to begin with this, so I’ll skip to the end. Awful, awful, just awful. An object lesson in how to completely fail at integrating genre tropes in a post-modern age. A po-faced throwback to a time when, hang on a second… This is a throwback; it’s the filmic debut of a 70s television series. Is this their excuse? Maybe, just maybe, because everything I’m about to complain about was done back then when it wasn’t completely laughable. So maybe, but I seriously doubt it.

Ok. The film is crap. There are a number of sins, but the most obvious one I’ll pick on is that you have a love interest, Nancy (Hayley Atwell) who on the way to intercept a group of armed robbers tells Jack she’s going to finally leave her husband and move in with him. Naturally from that moment on she’s marked for death. It’s so clichéd I actually squirmed in my seat from embarrassment. But it leads to worse sins.

After she dies, her husband goes on a rampage. See, her husband is in Internal Affairs or some such department, and has been trying to take down Jack because he thinks he’s corrupt (which he is, sorta). Blaming Jack for his wife’s death, you’d think that when he shuts down the Flying Squad an objection would be raised that he’s exceeded his authority in his grief. But no, nothing like that happens. This would be forgivable if it were necessary to advance the plot. But the fact that all the events kicked off by the shutdown are a blind alley that goes nowhere and end up mostly resolved off screen means it’s pretty much just posturing for the sake of some added runtime before Jack faces off against his nemesis. There’s more, but it’s as boring to tell as the film is to watch.

There are a few decent action sequences, with the most impressive lifting liberally from Heat, Michael Mann’s vastly superior 1995 crime thriller that is an obvious touchpoint for this film as a whole. There’s a few other action sequences that are pretty decent too. Though I recommend you wait for DVD and fast forward the rest as if it were dialogue scenes in a porn film. If you want to watch a good British crime thriller, I recommend you seek out Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright’s 2007 satire that is smarter by far and from which the final car chase seems to be lifted.

Without a single wink to its audience, I have to assume someone seriously thought they were making a proper crime thriller. But given its greatest sin may be that there’s not an original bone in its body, it doesn’t cut the mustard. Whoever the surgeon was who thought this Frankenstein assemblage of narrative dead ends was worth taking to the masses, he’d better get ready for pitchforks and flaming torches.




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