The Sweeney is about a group of police officers, called a flying squad, who try to stop an armed robber. It’s a smart guy, and seems to be one step ahead of the group, who dub themselves The Sweeneys. I didn’t know this at the time of my viewing, but it is based off of a 70’s TV show of the same name. And it shows. The Sweeney acts like a police procedural that runs for two hours. There is nothing remotely new here, or anything to hook the viewer into what is going on. Their antics are fun to watch, but are so brutal that no police force would be successful in this day. There is a suspension of disbelief needed in most movies, but I found it downright stupid to take it this far. The action is top notch. Watching the group run through shootouts in downtown London is a blast to watch. The Sweeney may do everything by the the books, but cop movies have done a lot worse.
The script relies on cliches to develop the characters. We know next to nothing about the villain, other than he is the bad guy. In this day, that isn’t good enough. If the script isn’t going to develop him, he better be one witty bastard. As you might have guessed, he isn’t. It’s fun to see them interact as a group, where everyone is playing off each other. The group of actors has some great chemistry as a group, but lose everything when they are coupled. This could be to a lack in writing, or the group of actors. The run time is another problem. If The Sweeney had clocked in around an hour and a half, the movie would have been easier to watch. But at almost two hours, it’s a bore.
The direction by Nick Love is average at best. It looks great a points, but horrible at others. There are some glaring inconsistencies in the movie that Lowe should have caught up on. The group constantly complains about being ill payed, but they have great offices. Their apartments are furnished rather well. While the brutality of the officers takes the viewers out of the movie, this doesn’t help.
The acting is a mixed bag. Ray Winstone gives it his best, but he isn’t supported by any kind of script. Haley Atwell seems to be phoning in her performance. Her and Winstone have a relationship, and it’s almost comical how little chemistry they have. Their sex scenes are cringe worthy, as Atwell seems to be having a horrible time. Damian Lewis is barely in it, and is a stereotypical superior in a police force. The worst performance of the bunch though, is Ben Drew. He’s a rapper in England, and his lack of acting experience shows. He’s delivery is monotone, and he shows little to no acting ability. Every rapper can’t make the jump to the movies.
The feeling that comes over you as The Sweeney ends is total indifference. The entire movie was just…..there. It’s not terrible, but it’s not good either. If you are desperately looking for a British action film, give The Sweeney a chance. Otherwise, there are plenty of other mediocre action movies that are being released on this side of the pond.
The Sweeney gets 2.5/5.
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