With the success of the TV show and the reception accorded to the first film, it was inevitable that there would be a second big screen adventure for the boys from the Flying Squad. Though, this time it was a more subtle film that didn’t place all of the emphasis on Regan and Carter.
As if things weren’t messy enough, Regan finds himself in a tricky situation. His former boss is in court on corruption charges and is looking for Regan to back him up. At the same time a major bank job is going down, the latest in a series from a crew that is disciplined and ruthless. The final order from his old boss was to catch these criminals so he feels a strong obligation though he owes his boss nothing. In pursuit of the gang, there is death and destruction, piling further pressure on the whole squad.
The film makers decided on s slightly different approach to this film. It is less of an action film with a whodunnit element and more of a character study. In the course of the investigation, a good deal of screen time is devoted to the two main characters, their relationships and what they perceive to be their failings.
Carter is conflicted here due to the initial run in with the gang. He was effectively running the operation while Regan was in court. The death of a hostage, the destruction of property and vehicles and the lack of a result weigh heavily in him. Regan is similarly out of sorts. He is unable to cover for his boss as this would invite scrutiny of his working practices. The burden of leadership feels heavy on his shoulders as he realises he is putting his team at risk going up against an armed gang.
The film starts on a very downbeat note. The conversation between Regan and his boss is bleak and cold. What we have come to expect, and got in the first film, is an explosive opening to reintroduce the characters. There is enough confidence in the writing that we do not require this. Instead of actually seeing the pursuit of the gang after the bank job we get a detailed post modem walk through. The actual events are left to the audience’s imagination making it all the more compelling.
John Thaw and Dennis Waterman knew their characters so well by this point that there is no need for them to try to expand them in any way. Basically more of the same which lets the story get on with it. In a way the characters are the least important part of the film. They no longer need to be developed due to their familiarity. This leaves screen time for other elements to be put into play. For a change we see the crime from both sides as we spend a good deal of time in the company of the criminals. It is revealed quite early on who they are and this allows their motivation to be examined. The message that comes through is one that is as relevant today as it was in nineteen seventies Britain.