RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2013
Valentine’s Day is one of those calendar events that often sends couples out to restaurants, cafés and the cinemas, but if you’re seeking a special event to celebrate with this month tread cautiously around The Sweeney. There’s nothing worse than looking for a ‘hat and scarf’ and ending up with a ‘hanger’ .
… but if you’re not familiar with Cockney slang, then prepare for a crash course. The Sweeney
is based on the legendary 70s British television series by the same name set in the seedy side of modern London. Immensely popular in both the UK and Australia, the show introduced viewers to Detective Inspector Jack Regan and his offsider Detective Sergeant George Carter, both exponents of a new style of ‘full contact’ policing.
‘The Sweeney’ is short for ‘Sweeney Todd’, which is Cockney slang for the Flying Squad, Britain’s rapid response team charged with stopping violent crimes. In this latest big screen release it’s a case of fighting fire with fire.
Ray Winstone stars as the craggy Jack Regan, a copper not afraid of fracturing rules and thugs for the greater good. Ben Drew is the new George Carter, an equally hands-on protégé who has risen from the streets to police the sort of crowd he used to run with. A series of violent bank robberies lead Jack to believe an old adversary as resurfaced. But when he’s tempted into a false arrest it’s clear that someone is actually angling to have Jack put away for life. Can the Sweeney prove his innocence before he disappears into the Old Bailey?
Nobody does cop dramas like the British, and no-one does action like The Sweeney. This film is full throttle from its opening seconds and doesn’t take the foot off the accelerator until the final scene. The MA15+ rating well reflects the seamiest side of British crime where sex is cheap, fists are the full-stop for most sentences and the language is as blue as the uniforms of the Bobbies on patrol. In fact the profanity is so thick at points you begin to wonder whether the writers needed more than four keys to finish the script. It’s appropriate but it’s not for the feint-hearted. Neither is the rhyming slang, which is just as thick and fast, and it might be worth knowing what ‘slags’, ‘grasses’ and ‘bottle stoppers’ are before you go in.
Jack Regan is a classic anti-hero, holding justice to be far more important than the limits of the Law. He operates according to a highly personal moral code that sees him trade stolen gold for golden leads. With his eyes fixed firmly on what is fair rather than right, it’s not surprising Jack also sees no problem picking up a new lady friend in the bar:
“I’m in the final stages of a marriage. The only thing that’s keeping us together is the roof over our heads.”
Oh well, that’s all right then…
delivers excellent action value but ultimately has a very low view of the law. Good just isn’t strong enough to cut it when evil is on the rampage, and so heroes like Regan are called for. The only answer to black is blacker. But the truth is evil doesn’t stand a chance when good comes calling.
Consider how much the Devil threw at Jesus – public and private opposition, death threats and betrayals – and how the false accusations leveled at Jack pale in comparison to the mockery of a trial He faced. The Sweeney wouldn’t sell many tickets if Jack lost his rough edges because we refuse to believe that you can still win even though you appear to go under in this world. To Regan, Jesus encouragement, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” (Matthew 10:39) would be the words of a right plonker. But the cross proves otherwise. The hero who rejects every tainted option is actually the one who lays out evil out in the end.