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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Cop Thriller With Unique Style, 9 Jan 2010
This review is from: Sweeney! Movie Collection (Sweeney!/Sweeney 2) [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
I've just watched Sweeney! on TV on what was admittedly a quiet night despite the plethora of channels these days - and if I sound like I was a tad reluctant it was because I remembered I'd already seen the movie years ago. What I didn't remember was just how good this film is. It's a cracker.
I was a fan of the TV series, from which the movie is a spin-off, originally back in the Seventies, so that may account for the onset of my amnesia - age taking its toll, alas. But the years have not blunted the action one jot.
If you like your heroes a bit dog-eared - by long hours on a hard job, boozing, smoking, trying to pull the occasional lady who crosses their path, prepared to give the bad guys a good smacking to get results, and above all, totally realistic, this is the stuff. Moreover, it does it so well, it deserves to be recognised as a classic. It broke new ground in UK TV/cinema, was much imitated but never bettered, and is waiting for a new audience to find, for whom the Seventies was before their time and sent up by the likes of Life on Mars, which references The Sweeney in just about every frame.
The plot's intrigue builds inexorably. When an informant's girlfriend apparently commits suicide, he asks Detective Inspector Regan (the truly superb John Thaw) of Scotland Yard's elite Flying Squad, to look into the matter as a favour. Initially sceptical, when the number of people who knew the girl suddenly ending up dead starts to grow, Regan begins to change his mind, and we're flung into a complex web of conspiracy with powerful and totally ruthless villains, some of them in very high places. Regan and his side-kick Sergeant Carter (Dennis Waterman) and high-class call girl and potential witness Bianca (a gorgeous Diane Keen) are all in mortal danger.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the movie is that - obvious fashion items and other period detail aside - it has not dated at all. The action is breakneck, the violence terrifying and the antagonists fearsome. It was shocking stuff back then and it still is now. Again, it's the realism that socks home - you don't see actors scrambling down a whole flight of stair in a Bruce Willis movie to escape a machine-gun-toting killer. It's that kind of authenticity that gives the film its gritty, edge-of-the-seat, bite-your-nails-right-down grip.
It certainly lifted an otherwise flagging Friday night, I can tell you. Excellent stuff.
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Location: UK.

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