A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) is a detective with a chip on his shoulder and a frown on his face. He leads an elite crew of London police officers known in Cockney slang as "The Sweeney." The men in this squad wear leather jackets and military haircuts. If they shave, they use dull razors. Their women are eye candy, and not much more. Somewhere in the laundry list of clichés, there is a movie here that we have already seen and forgotten.
The Sweeneys target armed robberies, finding culprits with such speed that you figure London must be a very small city. As the film opens, bandits burst into a warehouse full of gold. Meanwhile, the officers head toward the crime scene, making humorous small talk. They arrive with guns blazing and fists swinging, so relentless that they blur the line between law enforcer and lawbreaker.
Ray Winstone is perfectly cast as the gritty cop. He has a likeable quality as a thickheaded bloke with his own morality, slowed down by a pair of plastic reading glasses. He philanders with the wife of an Internal Affairs detective, though there is no emotion, beyond a few moments of contrived tension. He steals from crime scenes, if only to raise the stakes and make things a little more exciting.
This material might make for a compelling crime drama, but the film does not exploit its opportunities. The character of Jack Regan offers promise, but very little depth. In contrast, Winstone's performance in "Sexy Beast" was full of life with minimal action. Here, he is that usual movie cop who relentlessly chases after his prey — a jewel thief — breaking all the rules while destroying expensive cars. We have seen him before, decades ago, on late night television.