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When British cinema of the 70s is discussed, "Sweeney 2" rarely gets a
mention. Yet it illustrates the changing times as vividly as many
better-known films. The blazing action of "Sweeney!" is replaced by a
thoughtful film that, although more low-key, is perhaps a more accurate
reflection of the television series.
Regan and Carter are on the trail of a gang of bank-robbers who, from their idyllic base on Malta, occasionally return to Britain (a country they believe to be "finished") to carry out violent and well-planned raids. The men lead a luxurious communal lifestyle with their wives and children yet it is one financed by thrusting sawn-off shotguns into the faces of terrified bank cashiers and taking hostages (one of whom, a young woman, is killed in the raid that opens the film). They seem to symbolise the souring of the 60s dream.
Other details are equally telling. A young schoolteacher tells George Carter that she "doesn't like policemen". No longer does the force command widespread public respect. Regan's boss (the excellent Denholm Elliott) is facing imprisonment on corruption charges, reflecting the corruption trials that so stained the image of the Metropolitan Police in the 70s.
On their abortive trip to Malta to try to interview the men, Regan and Carter are plainly jealous and angry when they witness the lifestyle of their targets - a far cry from their grimy world of bacon sandwiches from burger vans and knees-ups down the local. But by the end of "Sweeney 2" and a year before Margaret Thatcher won power in Britain, it is the defiantly working-class coppers who have the last laugh, joined by their girlfriends for a boozy celebration - while the wives of the bank robbers prove less reliable.
Euston Films had a track record of producing high-quality television and (in this case) film. "Sweeney 2" fully confirms this. There are good supporting performances from Nigel Hawthorne, Lewis Fiander and Derrick O'Connor plus an exciting score by Tony Hatch. The action scenes, although lesser in number than in the first film, are superbly handled by one of the TV show's action specialists, director Tom Clegg.
Thaw and Waterman return to their famous roles in this theatrical sequel. This time Detectives Regan and Carter are tracking a group of bank robbers who always nab £100,000 and leave any amount over that in the getaway car. Regan is able to crack the case thanks to his Flying Squad team and some help from his corrupt, imprisoned former Chief (Denholm Elliott). This is a lot darker that SWEENEY! but still features some humor (mostly with Regan spouting off on hapless underlings). Like the first film, there are some shockingly violent set pieces. The only odd bit is a 15-minute detour where the boys go to a hotel to disarm a bomb. It is completely pointless, appears midway through, and reeks of something shot afterward to pad out the film's running time.
I will go with the majority opinion here. Sweeney 2 definitely beats
Sweeney as the best film spin-off. No silly conspiracy stories, just
good old fashioned blaggers and Regan and Carter doing what they do
best. Not to say that Sweeney was a bad film, just it was too far
removed from the series.
The story pits our favourite coppers against a gang of ex-pat blaggers who travel back to England from Malta every time they need more funds. As a highly professional, ruthless group, they are not easy to catch and Regan finds himself under the cosh, being pressured by his boss (Nigel Hawthorn) to get a result before the inquiry is taken away from them.
Sweeney 2 is more than just an extended Sweeney episode. It's considerably stronger in terms of both violence and bad language that even the ground-breaking series never approached. The fact that in the cinema it was certified 'AA' (now 15) but has always been an X/18 rated video shows that it hasn't mellowed over time.
Although the film drags badly in the middle, this is more than compensated for by the spectacular action scenes and a tense final 25 minutes. The scene where the blaggers crash a Ford Cortina through a shop window, and leaving a police car trailing in it's wake, is an absolute corker and one of the iconic images from the film (look at the video cover if you don't believe me).
Although Sweeney 2 is very much a film for fans of the series, I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good police yarn. There is definite nostalgia value of the scenes of '70's London and it's great playing 'spot the familiar TV actor' as the film included the likes of Ken Hutchinson, Brian Hall, Georgina Hale and Derrick O'Connor.
Before he was taking down on corruption charges, Judd had assigned DI
Regan the case of a gang of bank robbers. With Judd out of the picture,
the Flying Squad keep the case as a mark of respect just as the
robberies become more violent than ever, with the latest getaway
leaving a trial of bodies in their wake. With precious few leads, Regan
and his team get to work, all too aware that it is only a matter of
time before the gang strike again.
In a way Life on Mars has helped and hindered The Sweeney for viewers looking back on it with little knowledge of it the first time around. I was far too young for the series when it was aired and never bothered with it when it was repeated later in our multichannel world. Life on Mars has affectionately referenced the world of The Sweeney and this has meant that, although I am now aware of the genre, I'm also less likely to take it as seriously as it was intended. However watching this film it is evident that The Sweeney didn't take itself too seriously either and it appears to be enjoying its 70's excess and tough non-PC characters just as much as Life on Mars did. The air of humour is obvious but it doesn't take away from the tough tone that the majority has to it.
Of course this is not to say that the film itself is much cop and personally I didn't think much of it once the fun retro novelty of the film had worn off. The plot is a bit too thin to stretch to the feature-length running time and the strain does show at many points. This also means that it moves too slowly at times and loses the sense of urgency that it has in its better moments. The cast offer little but the touch male of the period. Looking back it is odd to see Thaw, Waterman, Elliott, Hawthorne and others in this type of role but, within the context of this film, they do enough to carry it.
Like my fellow reviewer Theo already said though, at least it does seem to be common with the original tone of the series, for better or worse. The novelty value got me into it and the touches of humour and tough style were more or less sufficient to make it entertaining, but regardless it is what it is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With 'Sweeney!' proving both a financial and critical triumph, the
inevitable sequel - 'Sweeney 2' - appeared the following year. Troy
Kennedy-Martin ( brother of the show's creator Ian ) wrote the script.
His track record in movies includes 'The Italian Job' and 'Kelly's
Heroes' ( both favourites of mine ). The director, Tom Clegg, was, like
David Wickes before him, a graduate of the series, and also responsible
for 'MacVicar' starring Roger Daltrey.
'They're back! Tougher than ever!' screamed the posters. Well, they got it half-right. Regan and Carter were certainly back, this time on the trail of a bunch of bank robbers who use gold-coloured Purdey shotguns and have a curious habit of leaving money behind in their getaway cars. The crooks are based in Malta, in a communal villa where their girlfriends/wives float about all day in bikinis. They are of the view that England is 'finished', which I suppose makes them Thatcherite, though the political aspects of the plot are not dwelt upon.
Ranald Graham's screenplay for 'Sweeney!' was both action-packed and tightly plotted, whereas 'Sweeney 2' resembles an episode of 'Life On Mars' on Prozac. It has some decent action sequences - the police car smashing through a window, for instance - but not nearly enough. Most of the time it is talk. Regan and Carter fly out to Malta at one point, but don't get far with their investigation, and you wonder why the sequence was included at all, other than to give the stars a free holiday. There's also a bomb disposal sequence in a hotel which seems to have been written in purely to extend the running time.
Anna Nygh ( 'Desiree' from John Sullivan's 'Citizen Smith' ) does an alluring striptease as Nazi-worshipping 'Shirley Hicks', and Diana Weston and Georgina Hale provide glamour, but there's little else in the movie of note. Particularly annoying is the waste of actors of the calibre of Nigel Hawthorne, Roddy Macmillan, and Denholm Eliott ( cast as Regan's ex-boss, currently holed up in Wormwood Scrubs on corruption charges ).
Other than the inclusion of the 'f' word, the script could have been done on television. The Flying Squad are augmented by familiar faces including John Flanagan, Derrick O'Connor, James Warrior, John Alkin and they go some way towards bringing the movie to life, but overall this is a hugely disappointing production. Unsurprisingly, there was no 'Sweeney 3'.
( UPDATE In his newly published book 'Shut It!' Pat Gilbert claims the crooks' decision to abandon Britain shows what a bad state it was in. Why would crooks leaving the country in droves be a bad thing? )
A slightly rougher and (in the last 15 minutes or so) more violent & gory spin-off from the TV series but with no DCI Haskins. Instead we suddenly have some bloke who looks like Sir Humphrey off `Yes Minister' playing Regan's & Carter's boss. The plot is a bit disjointed in places. Basically it's about a gang of `armed blaggers' toting gold sawn-offs and alarming '70s hairdos who jet in from Malta every so often to turn over some London bank. But then halfway through, the focus suddenly switches to some French-speaking `geezer' from Beirut in a hotel disarming a bomb in his room. He has absolutely nothing to do with the armed blaggers, but we stay with him for a good 20 minutes as George Carter dresses up as room service, takes him a large Scotch and ends up helping him disarm the bomb while all the other coppers have an impromptu booze-up downstairs in the hotel bar. No explanation as to who he is, where the bomb came from and what he's doing there, except for later on when Regan tells Carter `by the way' that `the geezer with the bomb' was with the CIA. And that's it!!! We're left to fill in the many blanks ourselves as the plot goes back to the expat blaggers living it up on Malta and planning their next `job'. We learn that they steal the exact equivalent of $100,000 in every raid - no more and no less. But again, absolutely no explanation is given as to the rationale behind this. Then there's Denholm Elliot's crooked Detective Superintendent who gets `sent down' for corruption. Early on we're told that he was Regan's ex-boss and that the two had been working closely for years, but I don't recall ever seeing or even hearing of the character in the TV series (although I can't claim to have seen every episode and it's been some years since I saw the programme so maybe I've missed something). Like its parent TV series and similar shows of the era (such as `The Professionals'), Sweeney 2 sticks two fingers firmly up at the PC brigade, and that's still very refreshing to see in this day and age, when programme-makers seem to be obsessed with tokenism, `inclusiveness' and not `offending' anyone. Despite its shortcomings and plot vagaries, this is an enjoyable movie for those with fond memories of a golden age in British television and '70s nostalgics in general. A bit of a mixed bag to be sure, but worth a look.
Wonderful example of a great British series John Thaw was a fine actor who always brought truth and a high emotional content to the screen,Dennis Waterman is well Dennis Waterman but a capable enough actor to play the sidekick.The film itself is of course a child of its time yes the wallpaper/clothes/cars are all horribly dated as are the simple "moral" attitude's towards women :smoking:drinking etc,but lets remember the "hard men" around in those days were just that "hard men" and they existed on both sides of the fence.Its also got to be remembered that this was a spin off film and that the budget was never going to be high and frankly it did not need to be high as this story does not demand it,perhaps the film does "sag" a little in places and the Malta shoot added very little to the plot,the body count/violence is pushed up but then I guess thats what producers/film makers thought that freed of the shackle's of television you had to go down this path.What the film does have going for it are good to excellent actors who knew there stuff, writers in the shape of the kennedy Martins who also knew how to pitch/sell the police plots in a " tight" structure manner,and the capturing of a time and place IE 70s London which no longer exist.So overlook the pacing the plot holes and the 70s morality and enjoy the snappy patter kipper ties(now you know you had one when you younger) and the Ford motors but above all John Thaw who was one of the uks finest actors in any medium or in Regans way' get your trousers on Tinkerbell your nicked
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just a gripping Film from the start, some really good acting from the late John Thaw as ever. A film is a must see for all fans of the Sweeney, the locations are just a good setting with plenty of action in the film. Some brilliant support actors as well in the film. The opening scene is just the start of it this continues through the film. The last 15/20 Min's of film where the squad are planning the attack at the villains is just brilliant,some true real gripping stuff and the ending as you really on the edge of your seat, you just hope that Jack gets to the villains before it all goes wrong for them right at the end,it all nip and tuck in this film with Jack having the best bit at the end of the film, it look like that he had lost out to the woman who was on the reception desk in the hotel when she goes back to his flat and falls asleep in the chair however when the job is complete the squad are in the pub celebrating the success they have had and she walks in with a nod from Carter to his Gaffer sends Jack in to a super mood with some wild dancing to the fiddle player much to the annoyance of the owner of the pub who as aid "No dancing or music in here please" but in the end just gives up on it and leaves it to them to get on with it
This film from the outset feels like something someone has written whilst high as a kite. The attraction of the Sweeney series is the pace of the plot, the running gags and sarcastic humour all the way through the film. This is a bit like watching John Thaw playing a different part whilst still called Regan. It almost plays like a book. The 'plot' or what there is of it, is split into several mini parts. Some of them have no resemblance whatsoever to the main crime being commited during the film. A gang of criminals goes round London pulling 'blags' on several large Metropolitan banks. They only take the equivalent of $100,000 from each one and leave the rest in the getaway cars. Weirdly, and although much is made of this during the film, itis never actually explained why this figure is required. It is one very strange film where you feel like time is moving very slowly and you are almost watching the events unfold in real time. The film lasts almost 2 hours but in truth could probably have been done properly in 1 hour comfortably. If you are a fan of the original series and are expecting the same you are in for disappointment. Its not the series and its not half as amusing.
Sweeney 2 was made a month after the TV series came to an end in 1978 and compared to the original film Sweeney made in 1976 it is a major disappointment anyway the story once again concerns detective inspector Reagan - John thaw and detective Sargent carter played by Dennis waterman are given one last assignment by their superior denholm Elliot to nail a group of sadistic bank robbers who are robbing various banks in the London area . overall this is a disappointing action thriller with very little action or excitement apart from the climax of the film which ends rather sourly which i think is unnecessary but that is the exciting sequence of the film overall a boring muddled unfocused sequel to an original film that wasn't action packed all the way through but it wasn't boring and kept you interested for a good 90 minutes but the performances are exemplary from thaw and waterman but overall avoid unless you like the first film and the series i strongly recommend you avoid this .
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