“The ramifications of your careless actions are going to have severe repercussions, Regan.” mumbles flop-haired actor Paul Anderson through a beard thick enough to impress a Swede. He is the main villain in Nick Love’s The Sweeney. And you’re not wrong, reader; that is one of the clunkiest lines of dialogue ever to make it into the final draft of a film script.
Like Anderson’s character Allen, The Sweeney really wants to be clever. It wants to be a police thriller that’s relevant in 2012. And with the inclusion of Ben Drew (Plan B) it wants to attract the youth market. But as much as it strives to succeed, it ends up a generic mess which is somehow both overly simplistic and wildly confusing.
Ray Winstone is the aforementioned Regan, an old school head knocker with whiskered jowls and a team of young, armed police at his disposal. His methods get up the nose of the establishment, but, as the film takes pains to point out, he gets results. This mainly involves calling people slags until they tell him what he wants to know, or consorting with underworld figures to grease the wheels of policework.
Drew’s Carter speaks with a thick urban drawl and is essentially a younger version of Regan, just as willing to break the law to enforce it. Their squad gets involved in an armed robbery case which shows evidence of having been perpetrated by mythic criminal Allen, although the murder of a young woman at the scene suggests that there is more to it than meets the eye.
There are plenty of problems with The Sweeney aside from the dialogue. While London looks delightful thanks to some excellent cinematography, it also feels completely devoid of life; anaemically empty and also lacking its essential diversity. And although the most exhilarating scene (a gun battle in Trafalgar Square) is decently populated, the behaviour of the elite armed police who are involved in it seems far from believable, which is the film’s other main problem. The narrative of the investigation feels cobbled together, the villains are minimally established and it’s very difficult to like either of the main coppers, because their mouths are filled with lines that Love would normally give to Danny Dyer.
The Sweeney is not a complete disaster. It just lacks the ingredients that could have made it memorable and portrays the police as identical to the thugs. Also, the sight of Ray Winstone ravenous with lust and rutting in yellow briefs can have ramifications with severe repercussions on your psyche. You slags.