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on January 29, 2013
Let me preface this review with a statement that is required for UK residents: Have never seen the original tv program this film is based on.

That said, I was stunned to see some of the harsh and, in my opinion, completely undeserved criticism. (via Amazon.co.uk) And I'm already prepped and ready to take on all comers in stating this:

Fellow film fans in the UK have no concept of what makes a truly bad reboot, revamp, or remake. Let me tell you about being an American who regularly screens disappointment. 'Red Dawn' or the steaming pile called 'Dark Shadows' being prime examples. In all sincerity, you guys across the pond have gotten way too used to high quality moviemaking. Spoiled, you need to live here for a while, maybe get a good dose of 'Footloose'.

Again, I'm prepped. Simply because in order to "defeat" me, you have to provide lousier examples of bad filmmaking. Sadly, in that category, we Americans have you beat hands down. And because Brits almost never produce something lousy, the weight of evidence is greater on your shoulders. Oh certainly there's adequate, uninspired, and repetitive - but never lousy. In my experience, there's usually something good to say about all UK film productions. Unlike Hollywood, which consistently churns out lousy like the receiving end results of a competitive eater's toilet.

As mentioned, and for those not acquainted with 1970s UK television, this is a reboot of the classic hardcore cop drama featuring a team of famous no-nonsense investigators - The Flying Squad. As of this writing, a retired division within the metropolitan police service of London whose history dates back nearly one-hundred years.

The specialized service was tasked as an action force dedicated to assess, prevent and interdict organized robbery crews. A seemingly straight forward mission. But like previous team leaders, the current head and his lieutenant, Jack Regan and George Carter respectively, came up the hard way. Resentful of paper-pusher cops and desk-bound computer arrests, the pair knows that to catch a dirty thief, sometimes you have to get just as dirty. No laptop is going to break a suspect, no legalese stack of charges will stop hardcore recidivism. Knocking heads is what these lowlifes know and that's what they're used to - so that's what they're going to get.

As squad leader, Jack often finds himself racing along a razor thin line between civil servant and criminality. Repeatedly blurring that line, much to the barely concealed contempt of his immediate superiors. But he delivers the goods - arrests and successful prosecutions - so he and his team are left alone.

Until he encounters a gang like no other.

Without realizing it, the squad's success becomes the foundation for their destruction. Savvy criminals have worked out that fighting Sweeney isn't working. Instead, they realize that in order to beat the squad, they have to adopt their tactics; turning them against itself. By employing counter-intelligence to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities, studying the behaviors and patterns of their foes, and essentially laying out an elaborate trap which the team can't help themselves but to fall into. Doing to Jack what was done to them for so long.

His team destroyed, his reputation in ruins, and stuck in a prison filled to the brim with brutal convicts; many of whom owe their incarceration to him personally. His life is over.

But can one really keep bull of a man like Jack Regan down?

Hardcore tough and thoroughly enjoyable flick with one of my favorite versatile performers in the form of barrel-chested, testosterone-infused Ray Winstone.

Really hope they do another film.

Movie Notes:

- From Wikipedia: The programme's title derives from Sweeney Todd, which is Cockney rhyming slang for 'Flying Squad'.

- One of the most notable missions of The Sweeney was preventing the Millennium Dome Heist. Interdicting a professional gang of thieves from nicking over a half-a-billion dollars in diamonds belonging to De Beers, including the stunning 203 carat Millennium Star, by itself having a shocking value of USD$400 million.

- Was the basis for the wildly popular US version: 'The Shield' starring Michael Chiklis.

Personal Note:

- I honestly believe every filmmaker who does a modern showdown owes a debt of gratitude to Michael Mann's 'Heat'. <g>
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It seems that "The Sweeney" has bypassed the US theatres altogether and instead gets released directly onto DVD. But by chance during a recent business trip to Sydney, I noticed the movie was playing in Australian cinemas and I took the opportunity to go see this.

"The Sweeney" (2012 release from the UK; 112 min.) brings an update/refresh of the movie and subsequent UK TV series from the mid-1970s. As far as the plot is concerned, the movie focuses on the London special crime unit called "the Sweeney". As the movie opens we see the unit successfully interrupting a heist, and then going out to celebrate and let off some steam (the latter even literally as we see two of the Sweeney colleagues getting it on). The tension mounts when an interal compliance officer announces that he is going to "observe" the unit to make sure it plays by the rules (which of course it doesn't). Then a brutal jewelry hold-up happens, during which one of the innocent bystanders gets brutally killed. Will the Sweeney unit be successful in hunting down the perpetrators? What about the internal review of the unit? To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Several comments: first, this is a though and gritty police drama and not for the faint of heart, so viewer beware. I thought the at times dark and always intense tone of the movie was brought very well, and in fact reminded me on several occasions of Michael Mann's "Thief" movie some 3 decades ago. Several acting performances are noteworthy, none more so than Ray Winstone, as the veteran Sweeney unit leader. Last but not least, the photography of London in the movie is eye-candy, with numerous air shots that give a dramatic panorama of the City. Bottom line: I have no idea why this movie didn't make it to the big screen in the US, as by all means it should have. If you are in the mood for a tough but action-filled UK police drama, you cannot go wrong with this. "The Sweeney" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on February 19, 2013
"As far as I'm concerned there ain't another job in the world that'll give me the kind of buzz this one does." Jack Reagan (Winstone) is an old school detective that does things his way much to the dismay of IA. He is on the case of a string of bank robberies as well as being investigated by his department for questionable tactics. When something goes wrong and he is stripped of his badge it is up to him to clear his name, stop the bad guy and save his department. I am a big fan of the British cop genre and this one is not a disappointment. Great story and acting makes this very very entertaining. The movie is full of twists which keeps you guessing what is happening and who is on what side right up until the end. That makes a movie fun to watch. This is a under the radar movie that I could keep going on about but if you are a fan of this genre like I am then this is a must see. I really enjoyed this. Overall, one of the better cop movies I have seen in a while. I give it a B+.
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on December 29, 2013
I pretty much guessed that the “Sweeney” 2012 would not be anything like it predecessor TV show made in the late 1970s staring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. The use of baseball bats and clubs by the 2012 Sweeney are a play on the use of baseball bats and clubs used by the 1970 Sweeny in then gun free England, when the 1970’s cops and the crooks mixed it up in down and dirty fist fights that were buttresses with brass knuckles, clubs, chains and anything else handy during an interrupted bank robbery, armored car holdup or what not heist.

Gun battles in Britain were a no no in the 1970’s all of which changed with Britain joining what was then called the Common Market, which evolved into the European Union, and the building of the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, ending England’s splendid isolation from evils of modern crime and allowing the illegal importation of firearms and there use in British society.

Seeing John Thaw as the head-thumping, crook stumping Inspector Jack Reagan vs. the cultured opera loving Inspector Morse provides interesting insight into the craft of an actor, as I still recall one line from the 1970’s Sweeney series where Jack Reagan berates any copper or individual who shows an appreciation for opera.

When I first viewed the 1970’s Sweeny films, I knew right away that the British were making better films in the 1970’s then we Americans were making in the 1990’s, and thus began my commerce in DVDs with Amazon.co.uk along with the purchase of a universal DVD player.

The absence of racial stereotypes, and the depicting of nudity and sex play, both male and female in the 1970’s Sweeney showed British TV to be miles ahead of its American counter part, even up to the modern day, but alas, the British have now caught up with the Americans, making British sex scenes just as boring as the sex scenes made in Hollywood. The British police in the 2012 Sweeney announcing themselves to the bad guys by yelling “Armed Response” will no doubt confuse American audiences who don’t realize that many British cops still don’t carry side arms. But alas again, what the British public doesn’t realize is that all their police will be carrying firearms in the future, just as their American counterparts do.

And thus we arrive at the true meaning of the negative criticism from across the pond against the 2012 Sweeny film, and that is to wit that our British cousins and their culture have evolved into a culture that is exactly American. The 1970’s five year Sweeney TV series was the most popular show on British television, and the millions of TV viewers who watched that show must now realize, after viewing the 2012 Sweeney film, that there is now no difference between British society and American society. And I’m sure there are a lot of unhappy faces about that evolution.

I think the film would have been better if it had been made as a period piece in the 1970s. There can be no Sweeney today just as their were no gun battles in Britain in the 1970s.
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on July 12, 2013
"The Sweeney" isn't the most original action picture but its London locale gives it something of an exotic touch. There's some noteworthy set pieces none more so than a shootout in Trafalgar Square that's reminiscent of a similar scene in Michael Mann's "Heat". Watching it the jaw drops in how-did-they-do-that amazement. As the leader of the elite police squad Ray Winstone brings the same brutish charisma to the proceedings that he offers in his gangster roles. Newcomer Ben Drew as Winstone's protégé shows promise. I understand he's a rapper in Britain so there is room for a second career. The tough uncompromising nature of the film may not be for all tastes but if you're a fan of British cops-and-robbers films this is something of a fair to middling offering.
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on January 28, 2016
The acting of this British Cop movie is superb, starring the always excellent Hayley Atwell. The movie is fast-paced and heart pounding. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie although there are more than a few scenes that seemed implausible. In fact, one of the most pivotal scenes was predictable and frustrating as the leader of the squad, Regan, puts his team (and London's citizens) in a situation that could only be described as inexcusably irresponsible. The disastrous results of that choice become that much more unforgiveable, making Regan come down in my estimation for the remainder of the film. Despite this, it's a worthy film for the mere fact that, yet again, the Brits show their acting skills are worthy of admiration. NOTE: The strong London Cockney accent is so strong that, at times (and depending on which character is speaking), American audiences may need the benefit of subtitles.
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on March 8, 2013
The most intense action drama of the year...BOLD relentless action DRAMA to the hilt...Cant say enough ...Writing Flawless .....Have to have another ...get off the couch cann the american drama action...trying to apease the people with righteous multi cultural B.S....and chase the bad guys to hell with the establishment....get the job done..............12 out of 10 starrrs
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on September 20, 2013
***1/2

The Flying Squad is a controversial elite unit of the London police force that became famous via a 1970s British TV series entitled "The Sweeney." At least as portrayed in the show and in several subsequent theatrical films, the squad is often seen as acting outside the strict limits of the law when that becomes necessary to get their man.

This 21st Century update stars Ray Winstone as Detective Inspector Jack Regan and Ben Drew as Detective Constable George Carter, along with a half dozen or so other actors (including Damian Lewis of "Homeland" fame) who together make up the team. In this installment, the unit is pursuing a man who shot a seemingly random woman during a jewelry store heist.

"The Sweeney" features strong acting, solid action sequences and enough character angst to keep us interested, if not exactly intrigued, with the proceedings, but there's really not a whole lot that distinguishes it from countless other works in the genre, be they in movies or on TV.
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on January 2, 2014
Like British Dram = Love The Sweeney~ only reason that I did not give it a 5 star is that I loved the original Sweeney back in the 70's and this is just not quite as good, but if you want to see how the Sweeney got its reputation for violence, getting the job done and beating the living daylights out of the baddies, then this is right up your street! Yes, they really were like this back in the good old days in London when a baddie was a baddie and he got the living daylights kicked out of him when he crossed the line!
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on January 4, 2015
Watched Regan and S1E1,and bought S1 on DVD.I am a Ray Winstone fan,and I feel he evoked the spirit of the late,great John Thaw.The rest of the cast did quite well,too,incl the sleazeball hubby with it in for Regan.Damian Lewis excellent,too.
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