Having seen the high thrill promising trailer when I went to see numerous films recently, I was looking forward to watching The Sweeney. It seemed to promise lots of car chases and action sequences, all wrapped up with a number of robberies.
The film starts off with The Sweeney, a group of officers who use any means necessary to take down the criminals of London. It starts off with a bang and they way in which they intercept a robbery on an industrial unit which seemed to house gold ingots. It is clear to see that this unit does not work to the softly/softly approach that is recognised in the modern world. Brute force and live ammunition are the norm. It is all very brutal stuff.
While chasing one of the perpetrators through the unit, we are introduced to the leader of this unorthodox unit, Jack Regan played by Winstone.
From here on out we are taken on a bit of wild ride through a very thinly constructed plot. Even now, I’m still not sure what the film was about. I think that it has something do with the villains of the film, using a robbery on a jewellers to kind of throw Regan and his team off the scent of their main target, a private bank in the heart of London. There were some double, double dealings, but I just couldn’t keep track of it.
Now I can keep track of the most complex of plots, but this film just was all over the place. You have to check all common sense at the door to truly enjoy the film. Unfortunately, I forgot to do that and was then left watching a film where the most glaringly obvious bloopers were obvious. One of these was when one of the team was chasing the bad guys through the National Museum in London. He turns the corner, only to be confronted by the two bad guys with pretty lethal guns.
Now remember, this is at point blank range. They couldn’t miss and it is obvious that the officer would have a vest on. So, what do they do? They shoot him in the chest. Ok, I hear you say. They must have some sort of morals about not killing cops, yet in the next scene they kill a female officer who is lying injured on the ground. It really made no sense on why they didn’t just kill the male officer.
On hind sight, the female officers death could be the catalyst for her husband, who works as in Internal Affairs, to launch a revenge campaign against Regan, who so happened to be having an affair with the female officer. This two is a blatant blooper. There would be no way that the force would allow an investigator with such a personal interest in the unit to oversee the investigation. It is supposed to be impartial, so his investigation is instantly tainted.
This is a major flaw with the film. Things happen just for the convenience of the next big set piece or to move characters into position. There appears to be not thought process on the plot. It kind of spoiled if me, as I like my films to make a bit of sense. Even Bad Boys had a bit of a plot to it.
The saving grace to the film has to be Ray Winstone. True, he plays his typical London Hard Man. It isn’t a stretch by far, but it is a joy to watch Winstone on the screen. When it is apparent that he has been stitched up, you can’t help but feel for him. Yes, he is unorthodox and his methods would make Gene Hunt from Life on Mars proud, but you can’t help but root for him to succeed.
One actor I just didn’t think was any good in the film was Ben Drew, also known as the rapper Plan B. He just can’t act for toffee at all. Whether this is to make Winstone look better I don’t know, but he had the acting range of a cardboard cut-out of a tree. That is unkind…. To the cardboard cut-out. He is unconvincing in his role and when the script calls for any sort of emotion there is just nothing. He is almost just reading his words straight of the pages.
On reflection, the lack of any character background on the main or supporting characters seems to stand out. I don’t expect war and peace on the supporting cast, but it would have been nice to have something about a couple of the others so that we get a vested interest in their survival.
As for the villains of the piece, I am still unsure what their motives were. It seemed to all be a big distraction in order to pull of the main heist. The fact that they targeted The Sweeney was coincidental. Again, another team would have been assigned this case after Ryan and his unit were suspended or disbanded. For some unknown reason, no-one else appeared to be looking into this crime.
The only other positive about this movie are the action scenes. These are definitely very high octane pieces. The stunts are breath-taking, especially during the final chase scene through a static caravan park.
Overall, while the action comes thick and fast, the movie just seems to be all style and no substance. It’s a shame because there are lots of good British TV shows that really showcase our talents. We’ve had the likes of Life on Mars and Spooks, which show how it can be done better and on a lower budget. Granted, these shows had the luxuary of more than an hour and a half to show a complete story, but the writing and ploting of these shows is much better than The Sweeney. For me, this is not one of our better British action films.
RATING: 2 Stars
THE SWEENY (2012)
DIRECTOR: Nick Love
STARRING: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Steven Mackintosh
GENRE: Action, Crime
THE SWEENEY ONLINE