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Sweeney! Review

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Detectives Regan and Carter investigate a weaselly image consultant who uses blackmail and murder to manipulate the world oil price.

★★★★★

This TV spin-off pushes the envelope on what Euston Films had been allowed to do on TV – call girls Lynda Bellingham and Diane Keen both get nude scenes and a hit man (dressed as a constable or a traffic warden) cuts loose with then-unprecedented bursts of automatic machine gunfire to mow down guest stars.

Playing up the slash fiction subtext, Regan is discovered in sidekick Carter’s bed at the beginning, though Carter is shacked up on a sofa with an air hostess to reassure you of their heterosexuality.

A typical Sweeney-like foiling of a wages blag (‘you’re nicked!’) prompts Regan to muse that the stunt man villains were only after what a crooked accountant can make in minutes of fiddling. This line of thought leads to a higher level conspiracy than the TV series was used to and 1970s concerns about corruption in the oil business.

There’s a lot of on-location action with Thaw hauling Keen around the city, on and off buses, ahead of the gunmen – though after Regan has shagged the posh tart, she gets gunned down and he only looks mildly upset.

The ending is 70s cynical as the Establishment are set to let the baddie off but Regan ensures he is killed by his own hit men, leading to the unusual finish of Carter turning angrily on his superior (‘they didn’t kill him, you did!’).

Among the familiar British faces: Colin Welland (killed by a window cleaner), Joe Melia, Brian Glover, Ian Bannen and Nadim Sawalha.

Sweeney 2, a sequel, is more like a padded TV episode with extra swearing, but it’s still value for money.

Very of its time but it was pretty gritty then and has its nostalgic charm now.