The Sweeney (15)


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The Independent Culture

Updating a TV show as iconic as this, the British cop series of the 1970s, was always going to be tough, even at the level of clothes.

The Sweeney without flares and sideburns is like doing Dracula without the cape and fangs. But Nick Love's revamp is hobbled by more serious failures of script and casting. From the opening scene in which a policeman's fiancée is rated among his fraternity as "a shitter" you know it's going to be a long haul.

The Sweeney (1975-78) was always a bit neanderthal about women, but 40 years on we're still supposed to giggle along with sexist berks and their "banter".

As for law enforcement it's baseball bats at the ready for all the lags, slags and blags that constitute the Flying Squad's daily business. In the roles of DI Jack Regan and DS George Carter, one recalls John Thaw and Dennis Waterman with all the more affection when you see how Ray Winstone and Ben Drew have inhabited them.

Where there was once hard-bitten professionalism now there's only charmless, foul-mouthed thuggery, most of it emanating from Winstone, who unbelievably manages to bed comely copper Hayley Atwell (in your dreams, Jack) and cuckold Big Chief Po-face Steven Mackintosh at the same time. It comes to something when the hero is so despicable that you actually start rooting for the villains.