The Sweeney - Trailer
Jack Regan is a hardened detective in the Flying Squad of London's Metropolitan police. Based on the '70s UK TV show.PT2M8S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2e069 620 349 February 7, 2013
(MA, 112 minutes.)
Beloved of men who preferred their heroes firmly set within the confines of a decaying, but still swaggering, 1970s London, Jack Regan (as played by John Thaw in the original TV series) spoke volumes to a generation.
As a Nissan TV ad later spoofed, he couldn't stop shouting, either at his long-suffering colleague, George Carter (Dennis Waterman), or at the endless line of bureaucrats and bozos that prevented him from doing his job. Forty years on and much has changed.
This much-hyped reboot from director Nick Love (whose films The Firm and The Football Factory focused on football hooliganism in Britain) looks and feels tough enough, but oddly lacks any of the infectious bite (and occasional charm) that made Thaw and Waterman household names in their native Britain.
In 2012, the Flying Squad, aka Sweeney Todd (cockney rhyming slang, for those who don't know) has its work cut out for it. Gangs are well armed, dangerous and highly sophisticated. Political correctness and police procedures have been allowed to run riot. Or at least, that's what Regan (Ray Winstone) thinks.
Wildly working to his own set of rules, Regan is a relic from a bygone era, which works fine when he gets results but not so well when it costs the taxpayer an arm and a leg (check the stunningly ambitious shoot-out sequence in Trafalgar Square).
Winstone is a wonder as Regan, pounding the streets of London with an expletive-laden mouth to match. Yet his rather sweaty shagging of a senior colleague's wife doesn't ring remotely true, and neither do the interrogation sequences that constantly undermine Love's singular vision of reawakening this much-loved franchise.
Worst of all is the casting of Carter, which is inexplicably offered to musician-turned-filmmaker Ben Drew, aka Plan B. Lacking any charm or conviction - or acting ability - Regan's sidekick is instantly reduced to a petulant teen, which effectively seals the film's fate before it has even begun.
Still, London can't fail to register visually - particularly the sleek glass facades of its contemporary financial hub - and Winstone, at least, keeps it engaging, even when heavy-handed direction comes dangerously close to derailing it.
Fans of the original show will not be amused. Casual observers may simply shrug with indifference.