The Sweeney - Ray Winstone and Ben Drew pack a wallop in cops-and-robbers reboot

Nick Love, stalwart maker of British geezer movies, has come up with a flashy big-screen reboot for the iconic 1970s TV series (opens in new tab) The Sweeney (opens in new tab).

With Ray Winstone and Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew filling the shoes of John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, the new film is an entertaining blend of old-school grit and modern-day gloss, taking the original’s Flying Squad hard men Jack Regan and George Carter and dropping them into contemporary London to crack a series of armed heists.

The cops-and-robbers format is the same - and so is Regan and Carter’s muscular brand of policing as they try to tie hardened villain Francis Allen (Paul Anderson) to a jewellery-shop robbery and get wind of a plot to raid a private bank off Trafalgar Square.

THE SWEENEY Steven Mackintosh & Ray Winstone

Regan and Carter, and their Sweeney colleagues, still go in swinging with pickaxe handles and baseball bats when foiling crimes, and don’t shrink from dangling a suspect upside down off a tower-block roof to extract information, but the fact that Steven Mackintosh’s finicky internal-affairs officer Ivan Lewis is now breathing down their necks shows that times have moved on since the 1970s. That Mackintosh’s tight-laced desk-jockey is portrayed so unsympathetically is an indication, however, that Love secretly wishes they hadn’t.

And just to rub the point home that we’re meant to be cheering on Winstone’s maverick bruiser, the hot young colleague with whom he’s having an affair, Hayley Atwell’s Nancy, is the prissy Lewis’s unsatisfied wife. Not that we need to take Winstone seriously as a sex symbol: stretched out on his bed in his underpants he looks like a beached whale.

And it’s best not to take the film too seriously, either. It’s a lairy, laddish fantasy, and as such it really does pack a wallop. Love stages the action with a panache that belies the film’s relatively modest budget and the big-set piece scenes - including a blistering shoot-out in Trafalgar Square modelled on the street battle in Michael Mann’s Heat - have an exhilarating energy and punch that British crime movies rarely deliver.

On general release from Wenesday  12th September.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.