Hollywood has taken no shame in creating movie remakes of popular TV shows from the 70s and 80s, such as Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels, so when the classic British TV series The Sweeney was remade for the big screen, it was no great surprise. Hollywood seems to have lost all sense of imagination, churning out remakes of remakes and that lack of imagination shone through in The Sweeney’s own big screen adaptation.
The cop drama commences with several minutes of seemingly pointless and altogether not that inspiring action in which we were introduced to lawmen George Carter (Ben Drew) and Jack Regan (Ray Winstone), with guns blazing and language that would make the creators of South Park envious. Our introduction to the female protagonist, Nancy Lewis (Hayley Atwell) was that of a somewhat unnecessary and awkward sex scene in a pub toilet which gives the feeling that, in true action-for-the-sake-of-action style, her character existed purely to be a sex object; a theme that continued throughout the film bar one particularly good punch which seemed to be the extent of her physical prowess.
The characters of George and Jack were intended to be intimidating to the audience, however they came across as arrogant, violent men with chips on their shoulders which made them instantly dislikeable. Winstone’s performance is acceptable, however the low quality script overshadowed him and stopped him from reaching a par he has usually set in movies such as Sexy Beast or The Departed. Whilst Winstone was the highlight (albeit a disappointing one), Drew’s portrayal of his sidekick mediocre at best; whether this was due to the poor scripting or his abilities as an actor, the role has done him no favours.
At some points there appeared to be a plot twist emerging, nevertheless the predictability of the script took away a great deal of the intended suspense as it was easy to guess where the plot was going despite the jaunts to other seemingly disconnected points in Jack Regan’s life. The haphazard structure of the narrative produced a feeling that even the screenwriter wasn’t entirely sure where to go next.
Top Gear fans will find one redeeming quality towards the end of The Sweeney when a car chase used in a featurette on the show last year bursts in to view. This was undeniably the only scene that I found truly exciting as it was the only one that didn’t include any cliché jumps or explosions, just good old-fashioned car-chasing action with a bit of gunfire. Though I did find that I had guessed the ending within the first half hour of the film.
Overall a predictable, poorly scripted action movie with mediocre acting, little emphasis on plot progression and too much on the character traits of sixteen-year-old boys in ‘big man’ suits trying to impress their friends down the pub. If you want an action flick on a par with The Bourne Series then this isn’t the one for you.