The Sweeney

Those who watched the recent TV series ‘Life on Mars’ may find ‘The Sweeney’ familiar.  Based on the hit British 1970’s TV show, the big screen adaptation features the same type of rough and ready coppers which made it so popular.  Intense, brutal and unapologetic in showing its’ fractured heroes in shades of grey, this gritty version should please fans of its rugged style.


Tough as nails and ready for action, police-officers Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and George Carter (Ben Drew) are part of the Flying Squad section dealing with armed robbery and violent crime.  After stopping a warehouse robbery, they discover a planned bank-raid.  Working in and out of the law as they battle crooked con-men and bent coppers they go all out in ridding the streets of filth as only they can.


Despite having some amazing action sequences ‘The Sweeney’ suffers from poor context.  The world of dodgy and rough police-men worked in the confines of the 1970’s TV series.  Here it’s transplanted to modern times and it never rings true.  Regan’s and Carter’s actions belong to that earlier era where it felt more believable.  Here it almost becomes a parody of the show it’s meant to tribute as well as having a dash of ‘The Professional’s over the top villainy.

One of its main drawback’s is Winstone’s performance.  Never do you feel any sympathy for his brutish thug which dilutes any empathy for his various plights.  He has a great chemistry with Drew however who sensibly tones down his role as his loyal off-sider.  Both look suitably haggard throughout with Director Nick Love’s finely tuned feel for increasing tension and effectively exploiting the many locations a major plus.


‘The Sweeney’ is a fairly generic cops and robbers caper with only the action scenes enlivening things.  It doesn’t add much new to the genre suggesting the field in which the original series plundered with ease has well and truly been mined.


Rating out of 10:  5



Safe Haven

Although ‘Safe Haven’ features his name on its poster, you’d be hard pressed thinking this was a Lasse Hallstrom film.  Having directed such interesting and unconventional works such as ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’ and ‘Cider House Rules’, his career has since slid into predictable conformity.  Helming his second adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, his initial talents are wasted in yet another celluloid pot-boiler.  A very bland romantic tale, ‘Safe Haven’ is akin to comfort food – safe, insipid and leaving one with the guilty feeling of having seen it.


Arriving in a small town wanting to start a new life, Katie (Julianne Hough) hopes for fresh horizons.  Initially this happens as she slowly blends into the welcoming community.  Beginning a relationship with widowed father of two Alex (Josh Duhamel), Katie finally feels she is where she belongs.  Unfortunately a dark past secret threatens her new-found happiness.  Torn between her new love and where she’s come from, she must choose which avenue offers the safest haven in which to survive.


Picturesque scenery, beautiful-looking characters and a soft-rock soundtrack – ‘Safe Haven’ follows the romantic genre template to the letter.  Add some ridiculous plot twists and you have a film amounting to very little.  Its theme of people becoming trapped by the past is interesting as is how they attempt to move on. Unfortunately ‘Safe Haven’ is so bereft of passion and inspiration you end up caring little.  Its descent into fantastical elements also doesn’t help in raising this anything above Mills and Boon level.


‘Safe Haven’ is made for a certain market most likely eager to lap it up.  It certainly doesn’t stretch the brain-cells and nor do the actors stretch their skills.  Their monotone delivery of the lines becomes tiresome although Duhamel and Hough’s characters have some vague chemistry.  It is sad thinking how low romantic films have sunk since Hollywood’s golden age where style and sophistication where common-place.  Now it seems drabness has taken over with ‘Safe Haven’s lack of courage in providing something new evident.


Yet another yearly Nicholas Sparks adaptation off the production line, ‘Safe Haven’ is as same as the others.  If you loved them then you’ll enjoy this although those who don’t are left to ponder how Lasse Hallstrom’s once intriguing directorial career has ended up with him helming such banal productions.


Rating out of 10:  2