Detective Inspector Jack Regan (John Thaw) and Detective Sergeant George Carter (Dennis Waterman) of the Flying Squad don’t mind breaking a few rules – and a few noses – to nick any villains foolish enough to be plying their trade on their London manor.
Set in a London of the not too distant future when Britain has become a member of OPEC, the film starts with Jack and George waking up late for work after a drunken bender with an air hostess. Sorting her out a police escort to Heathrow, they get to Scotland Yard just in time to catch a gang of blaggers in the act.
“Kick him George!” advises Jack as he tries to subdue Big Tiny, a massive gypsy. George obliges and Jack gets the cuffs on: “You’re nicked, Tinkerbell!”
But a pre-credits sequence sets up the main plotline which concerns the nefarious activities of slimy yank Elliott McQueen (Barry Van der Valk Foster), the blackmailing ginger-permed personal secretary to weak-willed government Minister for Energy Charles Baker (Ian Bannen).
McQueen is into extortion, prostitution and murder, contracting the latter task out to ruthless hitman Johnson (Michael Coles) and his team.
Charles Baker has a fondness for ‘brasses’, and as part of McQueen’s blackmail scheme we see one of Baker’s regulars, Janice Wyatt (Oxo lady Lynda Bellingham) stripped naked and murdered in a hotel room.
All of this political conspiracy stuff (which is to do with manipulating oil prices) is way above Jack Regan’s pay grade but he gets involved when his favourite “grass” (informer), car dealer Ronnie Brent (Joe Melia), asks him to look into Janice’s death.
Poor old Ronnie shouldn’t have stuck his nose in because in the next scene some of Johnson’s murderous mates turn up at his scrapyard dressed as coppers and machine gun everyone in sight to death in broad daylight.
Investigating his friend’s death then puts Jack in the sights of devious McQueen and his hit team, but rather than top a high ranking copper they decide to discredit him instead.
Masquerading as cops they pull him over, beat him up, pour whiskey down his throat and stick him back behind the wheel of his car. Though probably only slightly more intoxicated than usual, Jack makes a right mess of a pie stall when he careers off the road.
Suspended from the force for drunk driving, he enlists George’s help to clear his name and bring the real culprits to justice.
Sweeney! Is set in a late 1970s London beset by IRA bomb threats and widespread trade union strikes, with Margaret Thatcher just about to take office. It’s a drab place of dingy back streets, ghastly office blocks and hideous pubs populated by people who drink and smoke to excess.
A further spin-off feature film – Sweeney 2 – was released in 1978.
DI Jack Regan
DS George Carter
Flying Squad Cdr. Maynon
DS Tom Daniels
Murder Inquiry Supt
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