The Sweeney (Nick Love, 2012)

September 15, 2012

Consisting of four series and two feature film spin-offs during the 1970s, police drama The Sweeney was significantly influential in British media, popularising elements of gritty realism and morally dubious protagonists that television hadn’t been quite so prone to including before. Since then, its place in pop culture has most notably been deconstructed in the BBC series Life on Mars, particularly with its caricature Gene Hunt character, a cocky, outspoken, hard-drinking, politically incorrect hurricane of a law enforcer.

Nick Love’s 2012 film opts out of Life on Mars’ period setting, transplanting The Sweeney’s lead characters to contemporary London; it also avoids any of that show’s knowing commentary. The film certainly maintains tough enforcement methods inherent in its source material and the various works it inspired, but there’s not so much moral dubiousness to these characters now as there are unintentionally comedic levels of single-minded brutality, presented in an almost fetished fashion. Abrasiveness is replaced by outright mean-spiritedness and hooliganism. The grittiness of its forbearers is also missing, the film being over keen to stick to glossy, steely London cityscapes despite the nature of the Flying Squad/”Sweeney”’s line of work…

Full review at Sound on Sight


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