Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Steven Mackintosh
Director: Nick Love (CERT 15, 112 minutes)
The plot: US cop show 21 Jump Street already yielded a solid movie hit this year. Can our own The Sweeney, updated from the much-loved ’70s TV series, perform a similar feat? Regan (Winstone) and Carter (Drew) are cops with London’s Flying Squad, a unit that swoops down on armed robberies in progress. Their muscular approach to policing is effective, but causes headaches for their long-suffering boss (Damian Lewis) and provokes outright hostility from internal-affairs pedant Lewis (Mackintosh). It probably doesn’t help that Regan is having an affair with Flying Squad colleague Nancy (Atwell), who happens to be Lewis’ wife.
What’s right with it? Directed with panache by Nick Love, graduating from his formula of macho banter, stylish football-terrace clobber and Danny Dyer, The Sweeney is a decent stab at a modern British action movie. One sequence, where a shoot-out with masked Balkan gangsters brings mayhem to London’s Trafalgar Square, is especially memorable. Drew, stepping up to his first lead role, impresses.
What’s wrong with it? Regan’s “bash first, ask questions later” approach may have been acceptable in the ’70s, but in 2012 it looks inept at best, and worse if you consider the unlawful killing of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson in 2009. “You’re a dinosaur,” Lewis tells Regan, and he’s right.
Verdict: Contemporary action is the one genre that Britain’s never cracked, and any talent we do produce – actor Jason Statham, directors Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn – inevitably heads to Hollywood. So respect to Love, but we reckon he can do even better. 3/5 @charlesgant
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
Director: David Frankel (CERT 12A, 100 minutes)
The plot: Three decades into their marriage, it’s separate bedrooms and zero intimacy for Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones). Can a week of intensive sessions with counsellor Dr Feld (Carell) turn their relationship around?
What’s right with it? It’s Meryl! She can do no wrong, and she’s both heartbreaking and funny as the neglected wife who’s had enough. Tommy Lee Jones is just as good as the gruff old-timer dragged into therapy.
What’s wrong with it? Sue us for being shallow, but sexy-time with senior citizens can be a bit squirmy.
Verdict: Films featuring more-mature characters are the hot trend right now. Tell the old folks in your family about Hope Springs, but you might prefer not to see it together. 4/5 @charlesgant
Starring: Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg
Director: Woody Allen (CERT 12A, 112 minutes)
The plot: Woody’s latest stitches together four unconnected stories set in Rome. One is full of hot young things, with American dude Eisenberg drawn to the overbearing gal pal (Ellen Page) of his girlfriend (Greta Gerwig), while another storyline features 76-year-old Woody as an opera director trying to turn a regular chap who sings in the shower into a famous tenor.
What’s right with it? After the frothy pleasure of Woody’s biggest-ever hit Midnight In Paris, three quarters of this film is similarly funny, lovingly shot and playfully silly.
What’s wrong with it? The other quarter is a clunkily obvious satire on celeb culture, starring the annoying Roberto Benigni.
Verdict: If it wasn’t for the rubbish Benigni bit, this would be a total joy. 4/5 @BoydHilton