Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ray Winstone, Hayley Atwell, Ben Drew, Steven Mackintosh, Paul Anderson, Alan Ford, Damian Lewis, Caroline Chikezie, Allen Leech, Ronnie Fox, Michael Wildman, Steven Waddington, Kevin Michaels, Kara Tointon, Tayo Walker-Allen
Written by: John Hodge, Nick Love, based on the TV show created by Ian Kennedy Martin
Directed by: Nick Love
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language throughout and some sexual content
Running Time: 112
Date: 08/01/2012

The Sweeney (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Roughshod Squad

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's not clear just how many Americans will be familiar with the 1970s UK TV series, whose title comes from Cockney rhyming slang ("Sweeney Todd" = "Flying Squad"). But, happily, it can still be enjoyed by fans of basic, action-oriented crime dramas. Director Nick Love gives The Sweeney a gritty, realistic look, which contrasts with the screenplay's more rudimentary conflicts, twists and turns, and chase scenes. It feels like it should be smarter than it really is.

As the head of the Flying Squad of London's Metropolitan police, detective Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and his team regularly use unorthodox methods (including baseball bats) to get results and catch criminals. Unfortunately, they are now under investigation by DCI Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh), a situation made worse by the fact that Jack is having an affair with a member of his squad, Ivan's wife Nancy (Hayley Atwell). This investigation happens to occur in the middle of a sticky case. After a jewelry store robbery that turned to murder, Jack catches the likely suspects, but finds that they have rock-solid alibis and must let them go. Jack's antics land him in jail, and it's up to his squad to find new evidence and set things right.

Oscar-nominated co-screenwriter John Hodge (Trainspotting) gives the colorful lead character Jack Regan a range of moods, from romantic abandon, to humor, to desperation and determination; it's really more of a character piece than a police drama. It's too bad the other characters don't quite spring to life in the same way. However, if you sit back and enjoy the way Ray Winstone's energetic performance generously draws out the other characters, the movie becomes a great deal of fun in spite of itself.

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