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REVIEW: 'The Sweeney'

REVIEW: 'The Sweeney'

REVIEW: 'The Sweeney', Flicks.co.nz

3 stars

Ray Winstone, Damien Lewis and Ben Drew (Brit rapper 'Plan B') star as part of an elite police unit in this crime drama, based on the 1970s TV series. In cinemas Thursday February 28.

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Based on a gruff 1970s British cop show that’s now so dated as to be the stuff of parody, The Sweeney has been dusted off and (Nick) Loved-up for a new generation. Despite the film’s sheeny surface, however, fans of the original can rest assured: its pleasures – and its politics – remain suitably prehistoric.

Special-squad policemen Regan (Ray Winstone) and Carter (Ben Drew, AKA rapper Plan B) use “traditional” methods (hitting people, swearing, speeding) to track down an errant safecracker. Their superiors, Internal Affairs agent Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) and bicycle-riding boss Haskins (Damien Lewis), see things rather differently. You can probably guess who the film sides with.

While Winstone attacks the material with the sort of gusto usually reserved for panto, Drew, who impressed in Harry Brown and recently wrote/directed state-of-the-nation flick Ill Manors, is much more circumspect and awkward. This makes their interactions tense, lopsided affairs, like the one Reagan's conducting with his much younger colleague, Nancy (Hayley Atwell) – also Lewis' wife!

Although many, many miles from good – it's overlong, implausible and the character shadings seem to have been done with crayon – The Sweeney is still an intermittently exciting watch, thanks to some screeching car chases and a brilliant Central London shootout.

In other words, if you're looking for Heat, expect to be bemused, bored or offended. If, however, you're happy watching Cockney bully boys beating the crap out of each other with scant regard for decency, due process or what decade it is, get in line.

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