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The Sweeney - Film Review

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by Sophie Stax (subscribe)
Published Author, magazine and newspaper article writer. Healthy foodie trekker traveller sailor skier and scuba diver and golf lover. Wellness Coach by day ( and writer reviewer in my spare time.
Published February 5th 2013
Brace yourself for a roller coaster ride
If you loved the 1970's UK TV series The Sweeney then you don't need to go down to the woods to be in for a big surprise. However big your imagination is when you go to see this movie, don't envisage John Thaw or Dennis Waterman look a likes in the new roles. Today's twosome of cockney coppers are none other than acclaimed British actor Ray Winstone as Jack Regan and Ben Drew (from the band Plan B) as George Carter. The similarities end firmly with the names.

Proud as hell to be 'Sweeney' the team who play together stay together. Breaking all the rules of law enforcement and adding weaponry which is not standard police issue the guys and girls set out to bring down some of the most hardened criminals in their own unique manner. It is certainly entertaining and often times edge of the seat viewing. The violence and proliferation of swear words will be the cup of tea of many and bitter lemon for others. The Squad rationalises their behaviour, a rare glorifying of police brutality not relevant with this decade because they get the job done and the criminals 'nicked'.

It is this attitude that leads to an investigation by Internal Affairs boss Lewis (Stephen Mackintosh) whom Regan makes no bones that he despises this guy for many reasons, one of them being his interest in Lewis's wife (Hayley Atwell). Told to back off and simmer down by his superior Haskins (Damien Lewis) until the investigation is over Regan who lives only for the job, takes matters into his own hands and the result is chaotic. 'The ramifications of your careless actions are going to have serious repercussions Regan 'spouts his most prized criminal Allen (Peter Anderson) whom Regan had previously jailed and makes his raison d'ętre to him get back doing 'porridge' for life.

In an attempt to show is his softer side the film takes us to see Regan at the sports day of Carter's young step son (though we don't really know how he fits in) who is the first to cross the line after smoking a cigarette! Called away to a bank job a female bystander is the unwitting recipient of Regan's half eaten bag of hot chips!

With the team later divided by the boss men, Carter stands his ground and proves himself to be his own man when investigators try to turn him against his mentor. Drew's small oral orifice and drooling speech can make it a little hard to follow his bullet paced London dialogue at times. However, there is not much Cockney rhyming slang to be heard apart from the odd word like 'bins' (binoculars) meaning glasses. The Sweeney being slang for The Flying Squad which rhymes with Sweeney Todd the made up character of barber come human butcher.

The aerial photography and scenes of the Thames and London city are a feast for the eyes of anyone who hasn't been there in a long time. The Sweeney's new modern office block is glass walled affording an expanse of memories to those, like me who lived there once. The sound track (Lorne Balfe) deviates from percussion rhythms sounding like bongo's plugged into a bass speaker and floats back to an instrumental almost classical haunting tune which is well blended into the appropriate scenes. For the ladies there is of course a love interest with one particular scene involving yellow undies that may have faired better on the editing floor. For the men, lots of gun shots, fisty cuffs and good old fashioned beatings up, with a fair smattering of car chases, riddled with hand brake turns and lots of revs of throaty engines.

The story twists and turns with highs and lows and a few unexpected occurrences. Go and enjoy this movie for what it is. The poetic licence bill would have been high. John Thaw stalwarts be warned, however, if you are confusing the soft gentle portrait of Morse (John Thaws alter ego) and Lewis treading softly amongst the cobblestones of Oxford Universities then you are way, way, way off track.
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Why? 1970's The Sweeney gets a reboot
When: Sept 2012 in UK, Feb 2013 in Aus
Where: In Cinemas
Cost: Varies
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