The Sweeney - Blu-ray Review

'Carter turns up to a meeting at a posh bank in tracksuit trousers and a hoodie, looking like someone who got lost on his way to Hollister'

Nick Love, famed for The Firm, The Football Factory and The Business, turns his Brit-Gangster genre leanings towards the other side, in a tale of cops shot through with the same level of panache he tends to give to the supposed 'villains'.

An attractively modern score by Lorne Balfe pulses through the opening credits as a group of guys (and two girls) in two cars rate one gentleman's future spouse out of ten. They pull up at a warehouse and jump out, beating the occupants up with baseball bats in a chaotic opening segment.

Hold on. Baseball bats? Guns? Laddish behaviour? Does Love know he's making a film about the other side? It seems doubtful, although The Sweeney does at least conform to parts of the cop genre's expectations; Regan (Ray Winstone) is too old for this shit, Carter (Ben Drew) is the young gun with divided loyalties.

Love's key decision - make the cops unrelentingly awful so that the audience will like them more - is one based on the broken morals of his previous films, so it is little surprise to find that his script too echoes with his regular clanging non-liners of dialogue that either fall flat (Drew) or bounce around with over-direction (Winstone). The two collide at a Regan/Carter bonding session where, upon needing to leave, the former, for no reason, dumps his chips into the arms of a member of the public he is determined to protect and declares 'knock yourself out'. Quite why we're meant to like this man is anyone's guess.

The broken thinking goes as far as Andrew Cox's costume design, which sees Carter turn up to a meeting at a posh bank in tracksuit trousers and a hoodie, looking like someone who got lost on his way to Hollister.

Unsurprisingly, the plot isn't about to rival Miss Marple either, though you suspect it wouldn't need to if Regan and Carter's treatment of an elderly lady a little later on is anything to go by. Pensioner suitably terrorised, the duo spend fifty-two minutes aimlessly chasing people around before they arrive at a conclusion most of the audience has been screaming for some time.

At this point the film finally goes up a notch and Love pulls out a good action set piece, culminating in a pretty tense underground hunt in a car park, quickly followed by Damien Lewis actually getting two or three things to do.

Even with that though, this is impossible to love and very difficult to even respect. If Love is an adaptable director he needs to be able to leave his loutish predispositions at the door of new projects and focus on their own requirements. Key aim: write at least one character who doesn't need to bash people around the head in order to connect with the world and the audience.

The Sweeney is out on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 21st January 2013.

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