The Sweeney: Paris
- Eddie Harrison
- 11 April 2016
Jean Reno leads this baffling French remake of the 2012 British crime flick
Also known as The Squad and before that Antigang, Benjamin Rocher’s police procedural seems to have suffered from an identity crisis, but it’s most accurately described by its UK title, The Sweeney: Paris. Yes, it really is a remake of Nick Love’s unloved 2012 reboot of the 1970’s TV show, with the location switched to the French capital. Given that Love’s film barely registered at the box office outside of the UK, it’s hard to fathom the reasoning behind this entry in the cops ‘n‘ robbers sub-genre that the French generally do pretty well, from 1982’s La Balance to 2014’s The Connection.
Stepping into the shoes of the original show’s John Thaw and Dennis Waterman are Jean Reno and Alban Lenoir, as grizzled older cop Serge and his upstart sidekick Cartier, who operate at the heart of a tough Parisian police unit. Frustrated by middle-management, Serge’s dirty-cop squad use baseball bats and industrial machinery to punish some disorganised criminals in the opening scene. But an execution in a city jewellers leads to a mass shoot-out, and Serge’s squad face being disbanded, unless Cartier can take matters into his own hands.
Rocher’s take on dog-eared material comes up fresher by removing extraneous scenes like the jail punch-up, although the revised climax is even worse than the 2012 film’s caravan park car chase. Reno is well cast as a gruff veteran who mumbles about his love for Johnny Hallyday before entering a scrap, and the main action set-piece – cribbed directly from Michael Mann’s Heat – retains the breezy, exhilarating feel it had there.
But why bother remaking a film that was barely any good in the first place? Rocher may well know the answer, but viewers will be mystified by the existence of this copy of a copy of a British TV show that passed its sell-by date more than three decades ago.
Selected release from Fri 15 Apr.