After the success of both the series it was based on and the first film released to cinemas, it was no surprise a sequel to Sweeney! followed it only a short time later. Sweeney 2 works better as a film of the show than its predecessor did, eschewing for the most part the earlier film’s attempts at being more than an extended episode of the adventures of DI Jack Regan (Thaw) and DS George Carter (Waterman) and ignoring the political paranoia that fuelled it. Stripping things back to their core, it’s a more satisfying approach and manages to feel truer to the appeal of the series and at the same time expand upon it.
When Regan’s boss is sent down for corruption, his last professional request to Jack is for him to bring to an end the actions of a group of bank robbers, who have been hitting their targets hard across London. He’s up against it, however, because this is a highly professional gang. They don’t make mistakes and are ruthlessly violent to the extent they’ll even shoot their own injured members, but also puzzle Jack by leaving money behind in the getaway car. It’s going to be a challenge for him to nick them. What unfolds is a frequently brutal cops and robbers thriller that is punctuated by bursts of bloody violence and left field humour. Thaw has room this time to give a performance and is ably assisted by Waterman and the likes of Denholm Elliot. It’s also well directed by Tom Clegg and a reminder that before handheld cameras spinning around became the standard for action sequences, an elegant approach could work just as well.
As with the first film, Sweeney 2 has also been remastered for this release from original film elements and is crisp and beautifully sharp here. There’s plenty of bloody action that pops from the screen as well as a trip to Malta for Regan and Carter that is bathed in sunshine, taking them away from the concrete harshness of ‘70s London. It’s certainly the best shape the film has ever been in for home release. As for extras, like with Network’s other recent British film releases we get the original trailer, PDF material and an image gallery. Again, it’s hardly an essential package with nothing to tempt the curious first timer but for anyone who enjoys the film and wants it in spiffy HD, it’s the way to go. S
WEENEY 2 (1978) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: TOM CLEGG / SCREENPLAY: TROY KENNEDY-MARTIN / STARRING: JOHN THAW, DENNIS WATERMAN, DENHOLM ELLIOT, KEN HUTCHINSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW