DIR: Nick Love • WRI: John Hodge, Nick Love • PRO: Allan Niblo, Rupert Preston, James Richardson, Christopher Simon, Felix Vossen • DOP: Simon Dennis • ED: James Herbert • DES: Morgan Kennedy • CAST: Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Ray Winstone, Allen Leech
Writer/director Nick Love (The Business, The Football Factory, Outlaw) has made his living from showing the criminal’s side of things, so much so that even on The Sweeney, his first movie told from the vantage point of the law, the good guys still act like the bad guys. Based on the ’70s British TV show, this is story of Jack Regan (Ray Winstone), George Carter (Ben Drew, aka rapper Plan B) and the rest of the Flying Squad of London’s Metropolitan police, as they use any means necessary to get the job done. And that includes, in the first five minutes alone, bribing snitches with stolen gold, beating up crooks with baseball bats, and having affairs with married women.
Love does a good job of picking influences for his movie, knicking bits and bobs from Christopher Nolan (the Inception-esque score, as well as a plot section lifted straight out of The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Mann (London is seen here as a beautiful city of endless skyscrapers of glass and metal, as well as a massive post-bank robbery shoot-out lifted straight out of Heat), and between the cinematography, editing and some well-paced action scenes, he’s made leaps and bounds in terms of filmmaking.
But when it comes to story-telling, he’s still got a lot of work to do. The very messy plot – a seemingly pointless murder at a robbery that may or may not involve a world class thief – never gets too involving, and the other story elements – Regan’s affair, his partnership with Carter, his bosses (including a wasted Damian Lewis) trying to shut down his department – are too by-the-numbers to be entertaining. Add into that some truly awful dialogue, as well as a staggeringly dead-eyed performance from Ben Drew, and what you end up with is 112 minutes that feels twice that long. Next time, stick to the directing end of things, Love. Leave the story writing to someone else.
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Sweeney is released on 12th September 2012