THE SWEENEY (MA)
Director: Nick Love
Stars: Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Allen Leech, Paul Anderson
Screening: general release
BACK in 2004, The Football Factory introduced Nick Love as the only director capable of making Guy Ritchie look like an intellectual. His comeback suggests he hasn't grown up much since: indeed, the message of the film is that you're never too old to be a bit of a lad.
Loosely based on the 1970s British cop show of the same name, The Sweeney stars bull-headed, broad-chested, 55-year-old Ray Winstone as Jack Regan, a present-day London police detective who plays by his own rules, which means causing property damage and roughing up suspects in-between conducting an extremely unsexy affair with a younger, married colleague (Hayley Atwell).
Love has hired John Hodge, the screenwriter of Trainspotting, to supply salty Cockney banter, but nothing can redeem the routine plot, involving a jewel heist that brings Jack back into contact with his sneering old enemy Francis Allen (Paul Anderson). Love's stylistic tics include an overuse of zooms, a taste for gimmicky locations, and reliance on a hideous digital colour scheme (lots of blue and amber) to make everything seem more edgy.
Tastes vary, I suppose, but it's hard to imagine who could possibly warm to Winstone as a romantic lead, especially after his role as an abusive father in Tim Roth's The War Zone. He also remains the least credible action star this side of Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables. The Age