Most helpful positive review
on 28 April 2015
Taking a classic 1970s British police drama to interpret into a modern day thriller is always going to divide audiences as those who loved the series and don’t want to see it tarnished, and those who haven’t seen the series. I have never seen a full episode of the series, but know of it in TV culture with the tough-talking cops, gritty stories, intense action and classic catchphrases. Here however we have something that shakes up the foundations and acts as a modern re-telling rather than direct adaptation.
Set primarily in and around London in 2012, we have a culture that is unrecognisable to the 1970s original. Here, our Flying Squad is led by the inimitable Ray Winstone who delivers the ‘ardest Cockney police officer you could wish for. He growls his lines, delivers the perfect heavy-handed treatment to criminals and colleagues and is surprisingly fitting for the role as one who takes no nonsense and is born and bred to fight crime in his city.
And British rapper/actor Ben “Plan B” Drew follows on from his nasty turn as a vile thug in 2008s ‘Harry Brown’ to represent the lawful side society as a young DC with an equally tasteful choice of language but a fitting interpretation of youthful law enforcement. With the Flying Squad pushing the limits of their methods to take down criminals, both actors are perfect in that they are noticeable rough around the edges, but when you listen and see them at work, you know their heart is in the right place to protect the city that has given, and taken, so much from them.
With a fine supporting cast of British talent including Marvel’s own Hayley Atwell, Damian “Homeland” Lewis and Steven Mackintosh, this is a crime drama that embraces and showcases the city of London for all it’s worth. Car chases through the outskirts, shoot-outs in crowded streets and foot chases across hot tourist spots like Trafalgar Square all deliver the sort of action you’d want with nothing done over the top or enhanced with CGI. The punches are heavy and the violence is brutal in places to deliver a gritty and tough thriller that has a few loving nods to the series, but nothing that comes over as a pastiche.
One of the biggest drags is the shoot-out that starts brilliantly but becomes stale as the cops and robbers battle across London streets where it becomes apparent no matter how much tense music or nice cinematography you use, bullets never hit their targets. It’s a little boring when the shootout goes on and on where no-one gets hit until the end, but by then it feels far too long with nothing really happening.
It may not be the most exciting of crime films when they unit start to growl, mumble and hit walls as they try to solve the crime with a number of scenes that involve watching CCTV, taking notes and wandering around London, but the performances are decent enough to keep you entertained with a good story and plenty of macho gruffness from Winstone and Drew as you’d expect.