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THE SWEENEY


This is an action thriller from the UK, featuring a police unit in London led by Jack Regan (Ray Winstone).  His loyal sidekick is George (Ben Drew), and his boss is Frank (Damian Lewis from Homeland).  But above them all is Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh), who is looking over Jack’s shoulder and threatening to disband the unit because of wrongdoing, e.g., unorthodox (illegal) methods in bringing criminals to justice and possibly taking objects from crime scenes.  

Jack suspects an old enemy is behind a series of robberies and a murder, and obsessively pursues him.  This is when we see his team at work, and indeed their methods of capture and interrogation do seem to go beyond the law.  The case is difficult, and at one point it looks like Jack has made a mistake, and he is forced to release the suspect.  This makes him even more determined, and despite being told by his supervisor to “stand down”, he continues on his own in hot pursuit.  For those who enjoy extreme car chases and gun battles, they will be gratified by the story.  However, this is something I object to in many (most) police movies; both are completely unrealistic and impossible.  What is it about the human psyche that seeks out this type of violence, which is not only unrealistic but goes against our values as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and worldwide human rights principles?

The film, directed and produced by Nick Love and co-written with John Hodge, is not particularly well made.  Not only is the story sub-par, but the camera work and editing are jerky and make the story hard to follow, particularly in the beginning when the plot is being set up.  Most Americans will have trouble understanding much of the dialog—especially as spoken by Ray Winstone and Ben Drew.  There is a sleazy romantic liaison that makes no sense, and seems to be inserted simply to add that dimension to the film.  Similarly, the insertion of the child into the story is nonsensical.  The Sweeney is exciting in places, and the moral dilemma George is presented with heightens interest, but overall, I would say it is nothing special in police/crime dramas.


Grade:  C-  

By Donna R. Copeland