After a rewatch of Nick Love's 2012 reboot of the much loved 70s police drama last weekend, I needed to watch some of the real thing again and its great to see John Thaw and Dennis Waterman as THE Regan and Carter - their partnership and chemistry immediately palpable in a way that Love's film, with Ray Winstone and Ben Drew, could not hope to emulate.
Sweeney 2 was the second big screen spin off from the Euston Films TV series, following 1976's Sweeney! which was helmed by David Wickes from a Ranald Graham script. This time around, the director is series veteran Tom Clegg and the script writing duties falls to Troy Kennedy Martin, creator of Z Cars and brother of The Sweeney creator Ian. For better or worse, this big screen sequel is much more like an extended bigger budget episode of the TV series than the first cinematic instalment was, which was essentially a hard edged, bitter political thriller; interestingly, when Love's update was first announced it was mooted that it would be a straight remake of Sweeney! and it's rather a shame he changed his mind really, as the themes in Ranald Graham's story are still rather relevant today.
The plot for this adventure concerns a group of armed bank robbers headed up by Ken Hutchison. Incredibly skilled and successful, the blaggers are also utterly remorseless and violent - preferring to kill their own rather than leave a man behind. A series of bank jobs mystify the Flying Squad as each occasion sees the gang getting with an amount around the £60,000 mark, leaving behind cash in excess of this sum and a trail of bodies. All inquiries regarding the gang lead to a luxury hideaway villa in Malta, but pinning anything on them there will prove hard for our heroes.
Unlike Sweeney!, the great thing about this sequel is that Troy Kennedy Martin truly appreciated the ability to mix humour with action and drama in his brother's series. As a result he offers up some crisp, salty and sardonic dialogue that continues to delight on repeated viewings. There's so many great moments I love in this film, here are just a few of them...
Regan's riposte to his former guvnor's barrister when asked to give evidence in the dock during his trial for corruption; "Your client is so bent that it's been impossible to hang his pictures straight on the office wall for the past twelve months" Incidentally, the guv here is played by Denholm Elliot but it was initially planned to be Garfield Morgan, returning to the role of Haskins, the guv from the TV series. Yes Minister's Nigel Hawthorne appears here as a new bureaucratic boss and thorn in Regan's side.
Ken Hutchison getting all Dirty Harry with his gold plated sawn off Purdey shotgun "You're privileged to be looking down the barrels of a gold plated sawn off Purdey shotgun. Now as a bank manager, you'll appreciate that any man capable of cutting a gun like that in half wouldn't think twice about cutting you in half"
When Carter and a couple of officers (including the great but underused Derrick O'Connor) are called out to arrest a man attempting to put arsenic in a brewery, they inevitably come back to the station steaming drunk - obviously they tested the product to make sure!
A shout to a hotel where a telephonist overheard a guest talking about a bomb in his room sees the entire squad, the armed response and several coppers from other departments (including Hazell's Choc Minty actor Roddy McMillan and Minder's Chisholm Patrick Malahide) helping themselves to the bar whilst poor old Carter dons a waiter's uniform to face the bomber by himself! Meanwhile Regan, quaffing whisky, also takes a shot at chatting up the telephonist played by Budgie's ex missus Georgina Hale.
When Georgina Hale turns up at Regan's flat for a romantic rendezvous she finds him dead to the world with half a bottle of whisky inside of him. His murmured words before she secretes the front door key he left with her inside his undies? "George" Talk about bromance!
When Derrick O'Conner's character is berated by Regan for commenting on two incredibly well endowed young girls walking by whilst on a stakeout, he apologises and replies; "It's a combination of nerves and smoking too much. I get this hard on like a milk bottle"
Regan's exasperation with his new driver, Robert the vegetarian chinless wonder who refuses to pack anything other than an apple for his lunch.
It's not all laughs though and when Regan is walked through the carnage from the first raid which sees several civilians dead including a bank worker held hostage and a passing lollipop man he glumly remarks "I've never seen so many dead people" to which Carter defensively and somewhat choked, replies "They were shooting at us and we were shooting at them"
That's how you do it Nick Love!