Sweeney 2

Sweeney 2 is a British action 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.

Sweeney 2
Original British quad poster
Directed byTom Clegg
Produced byTed Childs
Written byIan Kennedy Martin
Troy Kennedy Martin
StarringJohn Thaw
Dennis Waterman
Denholm Elliott
Music byTony Hatch
CinematographyDusty Miller
Edited byChris Burt
Distributed byEMI
Release date
  • April 1978 (1978-04)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

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". Meanwhile, a b-story involves a long scene involving The Flying Squad in a fancy hotel, dealing with a crazy man rigged with a bomb (who turns out to be in the CIA).

Actor 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 to the island of 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 second feature film based on Ian Kennedy-Martin's original concept for The Sweeney. The first feature film, Sweeney! (1977), followed three series on television.

Barry Spikings of EMI Films said he made the sequel "because there's a demand for it. The first Sweeney film was successful so we're filling the demand by making another one."[2]

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 which was 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 lead characters, 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.

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 appears as a bureaucratic senior officer, taking the role usually played in the television series by Garfield Morgan .

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.


  1. Sweeney 2 on IMDb
  2. Mills, Bart (2 September 1977). "British money is suddenly big in Hollywood,'right up with Fox and Warne r.'". The Guardian. London (UK). p. 8.
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