Ray Winstone ignites the screen as Jack Regan in The Sweeney, a contemporary take on the hard-as-nails UK cop show (and later two spin-off films) known for their biting dialogue and groovy scores cribbed from the best library music on the planet. Here Regan and young partner George Carter (Ben Drew) take on a string of robberies with their crack police unit, who get the job done using whatever force they deem necessary. The pic follows Regan as he pummels criminals and sleeps around with a fellow copper (Hayley Atwell), who just happens to be married to the very Internal Affairs stooge (Steven MacKintosh) out to shut the squad down.
If anyone were to step into the shoes of the iconic Regan, it makes sense that it'd be Winstone. His gruff persona is on full display here, even when he's dealing with the likes of Captain America's bombshell love interest, Atwell. Balancing the film is hip-hop artist Ben Drew, whom filmmakers were smart to not make a rookie cop whom Regan mentors, but an equally physical presence onscreen who's willing to run off on a foot chase at a moment's notice.
Highlighting the film is a gunfight through the streets of London that hearkens back to Heat, yet ends with an emotional punch lacking from Michael Mann's acclaimed film. Otherwise, the movie's handful of car chases help pace the momentum, though it's Winstone who keeps viewers engaged each step of the way. Side players like the great Alan Ford only add to the fun. Cop-drama enthusiasts should take note of this adaptation, which guided by the wrong hands could have become a hip action vehicle marred by crummy camerawork. Instead, this is a fairly intimate study of a tough cop trying to keep his head out of water, making for an entertaining ride without bowing to clichés (unless you count how the hell he could get away with any of it within legal bounds).