Ray Winstone, a man never afraid of playing the gangster, stars as Jack Regan a member of the old Sweeney Todd with a yearning for a Barney and a Bang Up and a proclivity for finishing his sentences with "We're the focking sweeney, son!" and "You're nicked mate!". Regan leads a group of old school cops with a penchant for clichéd dialogue and the sexual politics of a bygone era. Regan's main partner in (stopping) crime is George Carter played by Ben Drew while their unit is overseen by Frank Haskins played by Damian Lewis in upper class fop mode. Between extended scenes of Regan's illicit affair with a married woman in an impossibly palatial high rise Holiday Inn, he gets around to some actual police work. Granted this mainly takes the form of police chases, beating suspects and saying his catchphrase "We're the focking sweeney, son!" but he gets it done. Of course things can't go on like for this forever eventually a crime is committed and Regan and Co are forced into some investigative work.
There is nothing wrong with an enjoyable well made action picture. All too often I find myself being accused of being unable to enjoy simpler pleasures such as this in favour of obscure foreign language pictures and independent American cinema. However this is not the case, a well made action film can tick many boxes on the entertainment form. Unfortunately for all concerned, The Sweeney is not such a film. As much as I like Ray Winstone and his honest performances, this film is a terrible waste of his talents. The script is awful, plumbing every possible cliché to drive the film onward. The story is boredom punctuated by car chases. There is nothing original, everything feels like something you've seen before in better movies. It's big action scene, an extended shoot-out in the centre of London feels ripped off from Heat. The bad guys were rubber masks reminiscent of Point Break.
This of course begs the question why was this film made? The Sweeney TV show ran for 3 series between 1975 and 1978 starring John Thaw, better known as Inspector Morse and everybody's favourite misogynistic wife beater Dennis Waterman. However that was more than 30 years ago, who was crying out for the jump to the big screen? As with so many of these ill advised adaptations, it is something perhaps best left untouched. Nostalgia is popular because it shows us the rose tinted view of how things used to be. You never remember the crap elements, only the sunny days. Starsky & Hutch, The A Team, The Brady Bunch, The Dukes of Hazzard, Charlies Angels, Bewitched, Miami Vice, all awful television shows made into worse movies. You can add The Sweeney to this list. You're focking nicked son!