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The Sweeney Isn’t a Patch on the Original TV Show, Says the Critics

Posted on the 11 September 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

The Sweeney isn’t a patch on the original TV show, says the critics Ray Winstone and Den Drew, stars of The Sweeney. Photo credit: Filmstalker

The background

The Sweeney is a cinematic remake of the beloved seventies TV show starring Dennis Waterman and the late John Thaw. Nick Love, of The Football Factory fame, directs and the iconic roles of Detective Inspector Jack Regan and Detective Sergeant George Carter are taken on by Ray Winstone and Ben Drew (better known as rapper Plan B), respectively.

Pointless and dated

Critics were less than impressed with Love’s remake and have largely opined that the remake is entirely pointless.  The Guardian declared that “this remake doesn’t even feel like it’s based on The Sweeney. Rather than upgrading the 1970s TV favourite, it treats it like a stolen car – to be stripped down, resprayed and erased of identifying features. Only the brand name has been retained.” If the point was to update the seventies show, and view its controversial policing methods in a modern-day context, it seems that the film is wide off the mark there too. Total Film observed that “despite the shiny Apple computers, despite the casting of Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew, despite the concession to feminism (policewomen can now punch suspects too), Nick Love’s update of the ’70s TV cop show could have been made any time in the past 35 years.” The Telegraph suggested that the recent BBC hit Life on Mars, was a far better descendent of The Sweeney: “it acknowledged that this style of policing was no longer possible, for better or worse (and Love’s film would certainly take the latter view). By refusing to make any such concession, The Sweeney is a film out of time; a reboot that feels more dated than the original.” Total Film sniped that “the effect can probably be recreated by listening to Plan B while watching YouTube clips of Winstone shouting. You couldn’t do that in the ’70s, mind.”

Disappointing central performances

The Guardian also made a Life on Mars comparison, stating that Winstone’s Regan falls short of the BBC detective: “There’s no trace of Gene Hunt-style irony, he’s just a complete bastard and unwittingly hilarious as a result.” The Telegraph was slightly more complimentary: “it’s fun to hear Winstone growling his way through some choice lines about taking no prisoners, not playing by the rules, and making grandiose claims about the circumference of his gonads.”  Ben Drew’s performance did not draw such favourable comments. The Telegraph called him “detached to the verge of catatonia” and The Guardian remarked that, “for the most part, it’s difficult to tell if he’s slightly stoned or just having trouble remembering his lines.” 

 ‘The guiltiest of guilty pleasures’

It’s not all bad. Empire gave the film possible its highest rating (three stars) and lingered on its redeeming features. It praised the film’s editing and “arresting” action, calling it “an attempt to do something genuinely different within a very rigid format.” Total Film, however, boiled it down to this: if you have a hankering for geezer-isms, cocking guns and swinging dicks, it might just be the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.”

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