Sunday, 2 September 2012


Out there now, there is a whole generation who won't understand that driving a Ford Cortina through boxes and litter "makes the car look good." These individuals will not know the joys of sitting infront of the goggle box and watching Thaw and Waterman show the BBC how gritty cop shows could be - all violence and curse words and a huge disrespect for rules and regulations, guv'nor.

The ITV series ran from 1975 - 1978 and showed how The Flying Squad had to go beyond the law to uphold it. It may sound like nothing radical now with "loose cannon cops" frequenting everything from the small to the big screen but back then it was a sight to see.

Forward 34 years and it's the turn of Regan and Carter to feel the big boot of the remake squarely up their Sergent's motor, courtesy of director Nick Love. With the ramped-up macho likes of The Football Factory, The Business and The Firm on his CV, Love seems like the perfect companion to bring the two secret detectives and their "no shit-taking ways" to the silver screen.

The answer is NO, with a side order of YES.

The problem isn't so much with Love and his direction, but with the script and its inability to bring itself kicking and screaming into the present - and then sit comfortably there. Other attempts at old TV shows being reimagined have realised that their premise or feel may have been unique to its original time period and have compensated accordingly - Starsky & Hutch and Dragnet! went tongue-firmly-in-cheek whilst The A-Team and Mission: Impossible went big budget and ultra-modern, leaving behind any traces of their out-dated ideals and feel. The Sweeney attempts neither of these tactics and maybe the non-comedy route was wise but the keeping of the ideals and feel however was not. The way that Winstone's Regan and Drew's Carter act and react to people and situations - indeed their roles and ethos - are outdated and do not ring true or feel correct and plausible in today's society. It may be a great line but "you're nicked sunshine" doesn't fit right anymore.

On the other hand, what does work in its favour is its commitment to the big-boy/hard-nut buddy-movie that normally takes place across the pond with one cop who's nearly past his prime and his younger partner who's sometimes wet behind the ears. The lads strut around satisfactorily enough telling everyone who isn't part of their team to "**** off" but their story arc and their words don't match up. Love films London like it's an American city with camera swoops and aerial shots that wouldn't go amiss from a Bruckheimer production and he even gets one of the leads to "hand over their badge and their gun" from a demanding desk-jockey Boss. The only thing missing is the sound of Detroit in the background whilst they glare at each other through bouts of shouting.

One Americanism that Love has managed to make his own though is what appears to be his homage to Heat. Michael Mann's cat-and-mouse movie saw his criminal crew make an ultra slick retreat from an L.A. bank job gone wrong in a breath-holding sequence where the pattern of "covering fire, reach cover" repeated itself over and over again in a hypnotic cacophony of gunfire and running. Here, Love takes this scene, its pacing and mentality and places it amongst the backdrop of Trafalgar Square in broad daylight, making it all the more impressive and provoking thoughts of "how did they do that?!?!" from anyone who's been around London during the day.

An OK cop movie, The Sweeney lets itself down by never acknowledging its origins or trying to adapt that origin to a believable modern setting. The other tv-to-cinema adaptations did so and mostly came through unscathed but here you really do wonder why did they even bother to call it The Sweeney and not just something like London's Calling, You Slag.

UK release date: 12.09.12
Certificate: 15

1 comment:

  1. How did they do that?? indeed,, vv early in the morning me thinks.b Lewis, Winstone AND Drew, gunfire, baddies, beatings and great views of our fab city,, what's not to love?!?