The Sweeney, aka Scotland Yard's robbery-squelching Flying Squad, inspired four seasons of British television in the '70s. This modern breakdown of the famously unorthodox (read: corrupt) unit by writer/director Nick Love generates a good bit of bollocks-grasping excitement, but squanders its highs with too many dulling lows. Famous for his book-'em-Danno-style catchphrase ("You're nicked!") and the quickness with which he cracks bad-guy bones, Sweeney leader Jack Regan (who else but Ray Winstone?) does right by doing wrong. He regularly bends the rules — beating info out of suspects, bribing informants with funds lifted from crime scenes — but is too arrogant, and too effective, to care.
Backed by protégé George (Ben Drew) and clandestine screw-buddy Nancy (Hayley Atwell), Jack begins investigating a knock-over of a small jewelry shop that ended with the brutal execution of a seemingly innocent civilian. The trail leads to an old nemesis (Paul Anderson) and complications with internal-affairs investigator Ivan Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) — who also happens to be Nancy's husband. Any good caper tale needs strong chase scenes and shootouts, and Love more than delivers in this regard — the weaponized footrace through Trafalgar Square is the movie's most exhilarating segment. It's the time between these sequences that comes off pale and plodding. No one needs engrossing character development in a heist flick, but we at least want to stay on the right side of boring.