There's a tight, workmanlike thriller in there somewhere, but its frequently consumed by layers of uneccessary fat
THE tough 1970s TV cop show takes the leap to the big screen for what is actually the third time, following two movies that were made while the show was still on the air.
But this is the first with a brand new cast, with Ray Winstone taking on the John Thaw role of Jack Regan, and Ben Drew as his younger partner George Carter, played on the telly by Dennis Waterman.
Thanks to the delights of rhyming slang (Sweeney Todd – Flying Squad), the Sweeney are a branch of the London police force who specialise in armed robbery; a fast armed-response unit, all baseball bats first and asked questions later.
Internal affairs are on Regan's canister because of some missing gold, though this is a subplot that peters out into little of note.
Meanwhile the return of a dangerous villain provides the main case, as a jewellery heist turns to murder.
It would be to the movie's benefit to focus on that, but sidesteps to personal lives are a distraction, like Regan's affair with the wife of the officer investigating them.
There's a tight, workmanlike thriller in there somewhere, but it's frequently consumed by over-length and layers of unnecessary fat.
The cityscapes of London are made to look terrific, and a splendid job has been done on a modest British budget of a couple of million.
And yet, even for all of director Nick Love's attempts to dress it up as some sort of rough trade Michael Mann, with screeching car chases and running gun battles, it's still somewhat low rent, with action that generally fails to raise the pulse.
But there's just something about it that holds the attention, and perhaps there's also a feeling that things could have been a whole lot worse, given the track record of Love on such ruinous British crime flicks as Outlaw and The Business.
The film is probably at its best when Regan is shaking down "slags" amid bags of macho posturing and London lingo.
Winstone gets it just right, his deadpan 'you're nicked' patter and streetwise demeanour carrying the action.
But Drew isn't quite up to the mark, and the musician turned actor is probably the film's weak link, like he's reading his lines off an autocue.
But overall, as long as you approach it with lowered expectations, The Sweeney turns out to be perfectly acceptable fare.
Director: Nick Love
Running time: 112 mins
SEE IT IF YOU LIKED:
Miami Vice; Starsky & Hutch; Outlaw
HOPE SPRINGS (12A)
AFTER 31 years of marriage, Kay and Arnold (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, left) are in a routine, and they don't even sleep in the same bedroom any more, much to her dismay.
She thinks it's time for a change and wants to go for a week to couples counselling. Steve Carell plays the psychiatrist, with the film's title referring to the small Maine town they head to, much against Jones' will.
Though they're the source of some amusement and insight, these sessions feel intrusive, and Carell's character rather creepy.
Practically half the film takes place in his office, and he's just a guy sitting in a chair, providing nothing like enough interest to sustain an entire film.
Streep can often be caught acting rather than inhabiting her character, and she's none too subtle in expression or speech, but Jones offers more as a husband who's not cold or distant, just distracted and uninterested.
When he's being a supreme grump, which is most of the time, this provides most of the amusement of a one-note affair that amounts to little more than you'd get in most domestic sitcoms.
Running time: 100mins
SEE IT IF YOU LIKED:
It's Complicated; Couples Retreat
TO ROME WITH LOVE (12A)
Great cast, shame about the storyline
RIDING on the wave of his 20-year career high with last year's Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen continues his tour round the great cities of Europe with this collection of romantic stories set in Rome.
As usual he has assembled a terrific cast, and it's nice to see the man himself on screen for the first time in six years, but none of the characters have a distinctive voice in the handful of unconnected storylines.
Allen writes and directs with the broadest of brushes, chucking in some mild fantasy as Alec Baldwin encounters his younger self in Jesse Eisenberg, and Roberto Benigni's humble clerk becomes famous for no reason, which offers a comment on the vacuity of celebrity before becoming obvious.
While occasionally raising a smile, a couple of the threads are a complete waste of time and this is, at best, throwaway Woody that's likeable enough as it goes.
But after a while it loses even that initial charm thanks to a bitter edge, and by the time we get to an interminable final stretch, what started out as minor and disposable has turned actively unpleasant.
Director: Woody Allen
Running time: 111mins
SEE IT IF YOU LIKED:
Midnight in Paris: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT (15) Tame horror, set in Yorkshire
BEGINNING with the dreaded words 'based on a true story', this fright-fest is set in Yorkshire in 1974, where a family has just moved in to their new home next to spooky woods.
Soon enough it's swinging light shades and furniture moving on its own, thanks to a presence that, at first, doesn't seem too malevolentto the teenage daughter (Tasha Conner, right) at least, though the parents think she might be at it.
Cue lots of banging and sound effects, though it's not without its creepy imagery. But it's all very beige and tame, and for the longest time it seems like you just can't make a workable horror out of possessed toys.
It's very British in the way they just get on with things, but its parochialism is both an ally (funny, down to earth) and a hindrance (hard to swallow, clunky).
But a decent build leads to some quite effective moments, and there have been many worse examples of this sort of thing recently.
Director: Pat Holden
Running time: 86 mins
THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO (15) French drama with a wonderful finale
MADE redundant from his shipyard job in his 50s, Michel (the superb Jean-Pierre Darroussin) is happy to relax and look after his grand-children.
Given money and plane tickets for their anniversary, he and his wife plan a trip to Africa as part of a touching, comforting family set-up that takes up the first half hour or so of this lovely French drama.
But a shocking turn of events puts an entirely different spin on things, and the focus shifts for a time to another family, setting in motion an intriguing course of events that gets to the heart of a group of very well drawn characters and examines both side of the victim/criminal coin.
But though it does get a bit bogged down in the middle, leading to overlength, and even if you might not agree with some of their actions, the strength of the characters and the film's innate humanity carry it through to a wonderful finale.
Running time: 107mins