Sweeney: Ray Winstone only good thing in a dodgy remake
Iconic cop show 'reduced to rubble' by film-makers while rapper Plan B proves he can’t act
A BIG-SCREEN reworking of John Thaw and Dennis Waterman's 1970s cop show The Sweeney has left most critics deeply unimpressed. On the other had, if you have a penchant for geezer-isms, cocking guns and ball-swinging it might be your “guiltiest of guilty pleasures”.
In Nick Love's remake, Flying Squad coppers DI Jack Regan, played by Ray Winstone, and DS George Carter, played by Ben Drew, aka rapper Plan B, investigate a seemingly unmotivated shooting in a modern-day London.
There are some cracking action set pieces, says Digital Spy, such as a shootout that sweeps through Trafalgar Square, a tense cat-and-mouse chase in an underground car park and a caravan-wrecking finale "that will have Jeremy Clarkson salivating".
But for the most part, "it's daft, un-taxing fun, but with a boilerplate cop storyline and an under-developed supporting cast".
The action's arresting, agrees Empire magazine, but the dialogue's not much cop. "In keeping with a film that is struggling to be modern, it often sounds awkward in its old East End language, rife with yoo-wots and, most jarringly, yoo-slaaags."
Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph says the remake looks "more dated than its original" and "feels unconvincing". Collin compares the “sustained, vibrating bass notes” in Lorne Balfe's ever-thrumming score as "oddly reminiscent of someone dragging a trestle table across a church hall".
Still, says Collin, it's fun to hear Winstone "growling his way through some choice lines about taking no prisoners, not playing by the rules, and making grandiose claims about the circumference of his gonads”.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw praises the casting of Winstone, who he says "gives it some welly", but says that's about the only thing this remake gets right.
The film is "fantastically heavy-handed and humourless", police-procedural details are wildly implausible and Ben Drew's talents "frankly do not encompass acting", says Bradshaw. “[Drew’s] look of intense, silent menace often makes him look like a six-year-old secretly urinating in a swimming pool.”
The rapper’s acting also comes in for criticism from Adam Sweeting on The Arts Desk. Drew, who looks more like Regan's grandson than his partner in crime-fighting, talks "in a retarded sink-estate mumble and shuffles about furtively as if he's trying to sell you some crack”, says Sweeting.
This legendary Seventies cop show has been "reduced to rubble" by director Nick Love, concludes Sweeting. "Apart from a prolonged and dramatic shoot-out in Trafalgar Square, this is a movie with no soul and no point. If you ever liked The Sweeney, you'll hate this. If you didn't, you won't bother going anyway."
But Total Film insists there is still “illicit fun” to be had. "If you have a hankering for geezer-isms, cocking guns and swinging dicks, it might just be the guiltiest of guilty pleasures." ·