The Sweeney Review

Ray Winstone and Ben Drew take on the 70’s classic, but can the film live up to the iconic TV series?

“Get your trousers on, you’re nicked!”. It seems like a strange phenomenon that if you’ve looked into the eyes of Ray Winstone for quite a while, you begin to physically fear in his presence, whether it be for good or bad. None more so than in the big screen showpiece of the classic 1970’s TV police drama which follows Officers Jack Regan and George Carter (played by Winstone and Ben Drew), as they attempt to investigate an armed robbery and murder by a highly sophisticated East End criminal. But once Regan goes into the criminal underworld to uncover the clues of the thief’s whereabouts, he entangles himself into dangerous consequences that may have an effect on his loved ones.

Using the ultra modern setting of London whilst keeping that old school crime feeling seems to be the films main triumph. It’s director Nick Love, has done a great job in creating simplistic law environments, coupled with relaxed bureaucratic offices along with the sheen of London’s skyscrapers and cars, which all stem from Love’s stylish yet at the same time unremarkable direction. But mixing that with the conventional investigative tools of the Polaroid pictures, the jiffy bags of cash and the leather jackets of East End’s hard men makes for an on-screen style that works.

It brilliantly gives nods to great crime thrillers in its scenes of gun fights and car chases, reminiscent of Michael Mann’sHeat’ of using an absence of music and open spaced shoot outs that feel really in the moment. The downsides of that is that there appears to be an active reluctance to skip over the emotional and romance sides of the plot and get on with the action. I could have done with more interaction with characters closer to home to our heroes that could have explored and set up more diversive plots that could in turn raise the stakes of their lives.

Winstone steals the show with his portrayal as Regan. A hard case full on intent to disobey the higher powers who keep holding him back from catching a culprit, to which he may pay for it later. Winstone fully inhabits his surroundings whilst dealing with the frustration of loopholes and inconveniences that get in his way, adding comedic value at trying to stick to a new diet to impress his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Ben Drew who plays Carter, plays the young cop pretty well without resorting to being just the sidekick in the duo’s relationship, finally finding a well enough role for him that best suits his youthful energetic acting talent that hasn’t come through endearingly enough before. The two actors do play off each other whilst tending to their own separate lives outside of their work, without entirely being the greatest of double acts.

It zips along accordingly without the feeling it’s gone on too long. Each characters personal story comes together in a satisfactory end, even with the main plot itself not having any weight or major importance. It has everything you’d expect from a British crime movie of this scale and will leave you with one plain and simple message, never mess with the Sweeney!