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Damian Lewis (left) and Ray Winstone get down ’n’ dirty in The Sweeney.
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THE SWEENEY (eOne, 2012) D: Nick Love, w/ Ray Winstone, Ben Drew. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NNN Rating: NNN
The Sweeney stands on its own as a fast, hard-action cop thriller whether you're a fan of the 70s series it's based on or not.
"The Sweeney" is cockney rhyming slang, short for Sweeney Todd, which rhymes with Flying Squad, the branch of the London Metropolitan Police that deals with major violent crimes. They operate under the unofficial motto "To catch a criminal, act like a criminal." Since their targets are hardened career criminals, this entails much violence with guns, fists and cars.
A jewellery store robbery followed by a bank heist that leads to a spectacular shootout in Trafalgar Square has squad leader Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) convinced that explosives expert Francis Allen (Paul Anderson) is his target, but Allen has an alibi. At the same time, Regan is screwing one of his team members, who happens to be married to the internal affairs cop who's investigating him for corruption.
Winstone's go-for-broke aggression makes it clear that Regan's alpha dog status is his driving motivation. The rest of the cast matches his intensity, notably Ben Drew as Detective Constable George Carter. In the series, Carter (Dennis Waterman to John Thaw's Regan) was a sidekick, but Drew makes him his own man with his own agenda.
The action is high-impact and realistic, the fights look like brawls, and the car crashes do not defy gravity. The making-of docs and director Nick Love's commentary provide a solid look at the mechanics.
EXTRAS Commentary, six making-of docs, two animated storyboard sequences. English, French audio. English subtitles.