Sweeney 2

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Sweeney 2
"Sweeney 2" (1978).jpg
Original British quad poster
Directed by Tom Clegg
Produced by Ted Childs
Written by Ian Kennedy Martin
Troy Kennedy Martin
Starring John Thaw
Dennis Waterman
Denholm Elliott
Music by Tony Hatch
Cinematography Dusty Miller
Edited by Chris Burt
Distributed by EMI
Release date
  • April 1978 (1978-04)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Sweeney 2 is a British action movie film by Euston Films, released cinematically in the UK in 1978. A crime drama about the Flying Squad, a division of London's Metropolitan Police, it was made as a sequel to the successful 1977 film Sweeney!, which was a spin-off from the popular British television series The Sweeney (1974-78). Some of the action in the film is transferred from the usual London setting to Malta.

The series was based upon a fictionalised version of the Flying Squad. The term The Sweeney is derived from Cockney rhyming slang, originating in the expression Sweeney Todd: Flying Squad, and is a real term used by the London underworld to refer to the Squad, whose brief was to investigate armed robbery within the MPD (Metropolitan Police District), an area roughly corresponding to Greater London.

The leader of the Squad is the fictional Detective Inspector Jack Regan (John Thaw), and his second-in-command is Detective Sergeant Carter (Dennis Waterman).


A group of particularly violent armed robbers, who are committing bank and payroll robberies all over London, are strangely getting away from each robbery with just £60,000 - often leaving behind cash in excess of this sum. The robbers are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way: they even kill injured members of their own team in order to get clean away (to ensure they can't turn Queen's Evidence). As Regan himself puts it after the first raid in the film: "I've never seen so many dead people".

Film star Denholm Elliott plays a bent senior officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Jupp, asked to resign over allegations of corruption, who just before leaving his post instructs his subordinate to take down the gang. But, armed with gold-plated Purdey shotguns, they evade the Flying Squad for quite some time, leaving a trail which leads Jack Regan all the way to Malta and back, before he finds encouragement from Jupp, who meanwhile has been sent down for corruption because Jack wouldn't testify in court for him.[1]



Sweeney 2 is the third film based on Ian Kennedy-Martin's original concept for The Sweeney. In 1974 a pilot film was made for the ITV television network, entitled Regan, which aired as a made for television film. There then followed three seasons on television, and, in 1977, a feature film released in cinemas entitled Sweeney! The film Sweeney 2 followed in 1978.

As with all the television and cinema outings for Jack Regan's Flying Squad, Sweeney 2 offers a realistic vision of the police and their criminal opponents, conveying what is usually described as a working class depiction of crime at the sharp end. It's a warts-and-all vision of the police, a far cry from the cozy middle class world of tv police shows like Dixon of Dock Green and Softly, Softly: Task Force, which were airing in the mid-1970s on the rival BBC channel.

As seen through Denholm Elliott's character, The Sweeney was not afraid to face the fact that there are such things as bent officers. The character was based on a real life former head of the Flying Squad, who had been convicted at the Old Bailey on corruption charges in 1977.

The stars, Regan and Carter, are depicted as hard-drinking, womanising, no-nonsense characters from a working class background, who resent the fact that middle class officers get promoted ahead of them. Regan is forthright, blunt, not frightened to speak his mind. He is, in the euphemism of the time, a rough diamond. He frequently clashes with his superiors, often for no other reason than that they're middle class, and hence are in charge of the likes of him. His immediate boss is a public school educated paper-pusher, who wouldn't know one end of a gun from the other, and is - in Regan's view - completely unfitted to command an armed unit.

Regan himself is a hard case, but completely professional.

The film tones-down the violence and nudity of the previous film, Sweeney! (1977), making this sequel more akin to the television series on which the films were based, and resulting in its release with an AA-certificate (i.e. Restricted to those 14 years and over), instead of the X-certificate (Adults-only) of its predecessor. But the film is nevertheless significantly more violent than the tv series and was re-rated 18 when released on VHS in 1987.

Nigel Hawthorne (who would subsequently be better known for comedy) appears as a bureaucratic senior officer, taking the role usually played in the television series by Garfield Morgan (who doesn't appear here).

As with the previous film, a number of the supporting characters are played by actors who had appeared in the television series, including Lewis Fiander and Frederick Treves.

Following this final cinematic outing for the team, one more series was made for television.