Even without Danny Dyer and a followable backstory, Nick Love's reboot has verve and theatricality
Do policemen really have offices like that? Can ramifications have repercussions? What would be the gender-reversed equivalent of a Ray Winstone/Hayley Atwell love match? Will anyone ever do a makeup job on poor ginger Damian Lewis that doesn’t make him look as if he has been basted with shoe polish around the eyes and hair? Where, oh where is Danny Dyer, and is he OK? Many questions trouble the mind as Nick Love’s contemporary reboot of the beloved British cop show unspools; but on the whole, the much-reviled director of such blokey romps as The Football Factory and The Business has made a decent fist of turning The Sweeney into his sort of thriller – even without his usual go-to scamp Dyer.
The crime backstory is a haphazard, unfollowable fankle involving Serbian bank robbers and London lowlifes and, I don’t know, a boat; but the fraught internal relationships between Winstone’s foul-mouthed, fist-happy Flying Squad detective Jack Regan and his variably corrupt colleagues provide sufficient plot, and the action sequences have verve. Love’s peculiar, clashing take on form and content – raw language and grimy characters framed by lovely shiny surfaces, nice colours and showy compositions – also lends the film a diverting degree of theatricality.
As Regan’s partner George Carter, Ben Drew (aka musician Plan B) is truly impressive: sympathetic, natural, yet persuasively menacing when required. Tongue-in-cheekness is present but thankfully not overbearing. This is a compact, undemanding film that feels – with its join-the-dots characterisation and its preponderance of glassy office interiors – more like a TV episode than a fully-fledged movie. It won’t rehabilitate Love in the eyes of his many detractors, but nor will it disappoint the devoted fanbase he has built. Apart from Danny Dyer. He’s probably a bit disappointed. Watch your back, Plan B.
General release from Wed 12 Sep.