Film Review: The Sweeney
The Sweeney was such a popular show that it begs the question, why put an overdue cinematic feature in the hands of Nick ‘I’m probably a massive racist’ Love; a crude, hateful and arrogant excuse for a film director?
We’ve all seen his type before. In our local pub, or outside a supermarket, there is always that weasel of a man who is somehow convinced that strategically throwing the word ‘f*ckin’ before and in the middle of every sentence will disguise the fact that he’s in a fact a film director and not (as he would try and have you believe) a hard-nosed London tough man.
Thankfully, the type of antihero that Love tends to centralise in almost all of his films is a dying breed. And not just that, no one really cares about these pathetic, violence-driven little men. This is proven in his lastest outing, a modern retelling of the stories of detectives Regan and Carter. Having completely run out of recyclable ideas, Love seems to have taken it upon himself to use a legendary TV show from the 70s to quench his desire to see his name in lights.
It should first be noted that the film does have a single plus point in musician-turned-actor Ben Drew. Far and away the highlight of the film in his character and also his confidence, Drew proves with The Sweeney that he has a career in this business, even if it is ever only going to be as one-dimensional as say, Ray Winstone. Having proven he can hold his own outside of gritty, Brit-actioners in films like The Departed and Hugo, Winstone returns to classic, dogsh*t form here providing nothing by way of squinting his eyes and filling a sock with some batteries. On another note, no one in this world wants to see him doing ‘relations’ with Hayley Atwell in a toilet cubicle. No one. And no one wants to see them necking in a hotel room either. It’s just gross and unnecessary.
Finally castwise, there’s Damian Lewis as the superior to both Winstone and Drew’s characters in what can only be described as a desperate ploy to try and appeal to an American market. In fact, Lewis was prevalent in so many scenes that it’s hard not to be convinced that he’s the villain. But alas, he’s just a character that’s there, doing nothing, taking up screen time so that if The Sweeney miraculously did manage to get some sort of US release, the three Americans that pay to see it can go, ‘Hey man, that’s that dude from goddamn Homeland.’
While it’s hard to imagine how fans of The Sweeney must feel seeing their beloved characters (so fittingly portrayed by John Thaw and Dennis Waterman in the original series) ruined by pervasive foul language and inexplicable sex scenes, it is the true film fans that have it worst here as it is abundantly clear from the outset that Love has watched The Dark Knight and Inception so many times that he is trying to emulate them both in what can only be described as a violent homage to London central and all of it’s landmarks. A shootout (where no one gets shot for ages) on Trafalgar Square you say? Check. A foot pursuit through St. James’ Park? Check. The Mall? Check. Firing handguns in the National Gallery? Check. The perps in this scene also just happen to have robbed a bank and are wearing realisic looking human face masks to disguise themselves. It plays on not only The Dark Knight, but Point Break so blatently that it’s criminal (badum-tiss).
None of this though is as criminal as the ‘original’ score. Anyone that has seen the aforementioned Christopher Nolan films will notice instantly that it plagerises elements of Hans Zimmer’s scores for both. At one point, you will find yourself doing a double-take and thinking, ‘did I really just hear the two-note Joker theme?’.
All of these elements, Nolan-esque colour palette included, simply further evidence just how close to the end of his career Nick Love is. He seems to have completely exhausted himself and now feels the need to rehash the boozing, drinking, swearing and shooting that originally put him on the map while ruining the name of a perfectly good TV show.
Recycling yourself whilst thieving the ideas of others more talented than you and trying to pass them off as your own?
Put your trousers on. You’re nicked, Love.