Jack (Winstone) is a grizzled veteran of the Flying Squad, known in rhyming slang as "the Sweeney", an elite team of undercover London cops who deal with armed crime. His right-hand man and protege is George (Drew), and as they investigate a suspiciously messy jewellery heist, they are distracted when internal affairs officer Lewis (Mackintosh) starts looking for a reason to shut them down. Their captain (Lewis) tries to help, but things are complicated by the fact that Jack is having an affair with Lewis' wife (Atwell).
Yes, the script is a mixture of police procedural and soap opera, with heightened drama and a series of events that feel contrived to crank up our emotional involvement. For the most part, this strategy works. We never really care about the convoluted central mystery, because we know it will be resolved in due time. And all of the interpersonal nastiness is just as predictable. So it's up to the adept cast to provide the interest, which of course Winstone can do in his sleep. He's such a magnetic presence that he holds the whole film together, and his repartee with Drew is packed with lively camaraderie.
Meanwhile, Atwell manages to inject her somewhat thankless role with some intriguing depth. And everyone else makes the most of their one-note characters.
Unlike most London crime thrillers, Love shoots this film in more gleaming, modern settings, making terrific use of flashy office blocks and sleek cars while sending the action out into the river, the parks and, in the film's heart-stopping centrepiece sequence, Trafalgar Square itself. So it's a bit of a shame that the story feels as small as it does, never really catching our imagination the way the characters do. But it leaves us looking forward to the next episode.
Run time: 112 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st March 2013
Box Office USA: $26.3k
Distributed by: Entertianment One Films
Production compaines: Vertigo Films, Embargo Films, Exponential Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 28 Rotten: 33
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Nick Love
Screenwriter: John Hodge, Nick Love
Starring: Ray Winstone as Jack Regan, Ben Drew as George Carter, Hayley Atwell as Nancy Lewis, Damian Lewis as Frank Haskins, Alan Ford as Harry, Steven Mackintosh as Ivan Lewis, Kara Tointon as Megan
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