VOD film review: The Sweeney: Paris
Reno and Lenoir7.5
Matthew Turner | On 15, Apr 2016
Director: Benjamin Rocher
Cast: Jean Reno, Alban Lenoir, Stefi Celma, Sebastien Lalanne, Jakob Cedergren
Watch The Sweeney: Paris online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Formerly known as Antigang or The Squad, this enjoyable French cop thriller is a loose remake of 2012’s The Sweeney, a British thriller adapted from a 1970s TV show that failed to make much of an impact at the UK box office, but obviously impressed French director Benjamin Rocher. As it turns out, Rocher’s film is actually a slight improvement over the British version, if only because it doesn’t force you to watch Ray Winstone having sex with Hayley Atwell.
Set in present-day Paris, the film stars Jean Reno as veteran cop Serge Buren, the head of an ass-kicking police unit, whose unconventional methods include bashing criminals with baseball bats and dangling suspects off tall buildings. Together with cocky, quick-witted sidekick Cartier (Lenoir), Buren pursues known jewel thief Kasper (Cedergren), only to meet resistance from Becker (Thierry Neuvic), their interfering, by-the-book new boss. To make matters worse, Buren is sleeping with Becker’s wife, fellow squad member Margeaux (Casino Royale’s Caterina Murino).
Reno is on fine, grizzled form as Buren and the film gets some decent comic mileage out of his ability to sit still and glare for a bit, as well as showcasing his impressive gun-toting skills. However, the film really belongs to rising star Lenoir, who delivers an extremely charismatic performance as wise-cracking Cartier that practically fizzes with energy during the action sequences, particularly when he’s facing off against a much bigger opponent in a smartly staged fight.
Alongside Reno and Lenoir, the rest of the squad are rather short-changed in the characterisation department, but there’s strong work from Neuvic as put-upon boss Becker and Oumar Diaw makes an impression as new recruit Manu, while Murino makes the most of an under-written part as Margeaux.
One or two wobbles aside, Rocher maintains basic control of the tone, leaving us in no doubt that we’re just meant to enjoy the ride and not take any of this too seriously. To that end, he orchestrates a handful of exciting set pieces, including a blistering shoot-out around the wood, steel and glass towers of the Bibliotheque Nationale Francaise, which is clearly inspired by Michael Mann’s Heat.
The main problem is that the script leans a little too heavily on cliché, while Cedergren is rather underwhelming as an adversary. Similarly, the unimaginative, tension-free climax is a bit of a let-down, suggesting Rocher put all his efforts into the central set-piece and forgot he needed to pull something equally exciting out of the bag for the finale. That said, for all its flaws, The Sweeney: Paris is undeniably entertaining, albeit in a trashy, forgettable sort of way, with Lenoir (who’s been around for a while but has yet to achieve UK recognition) emerging as a real talent to watch. Worth seeing.