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DVD picks

Ray Winstone and Damian Lewis are solving crimes in London

Entertainment One Films

“The Sweeney” (2013)

When Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx remade “Miami Vice” a few years back, would we have been as inclined to check out the movie if we didn’t know the TV show? A similar question applies to “The Sweeney” (2013), a feature update of a ’70s British cop drama that most Americans probably couldn’t pick out of a lineup. Seeing Damian Lewis and Ray Winstone (above, from left) on the cover will likely have to be the thing that sells you, because brand recognition won’t. Winstone (“The Departed”) plays Jack Regan, grizzled alpha dog of a London detective squad that’s not above employing, say, baseball bats to deal with the armed robbers they nick (translated: “arrest”). Regan, sidekick George Carter (British rapper Ben Drew), and their team get results, so they get a pass from their boss (Lewis, in a modest role cast before “Homeland” took off). But Regan’s boots-knockin’ involvement with a squad member (Hayley Atwell, “Captain America”) is one infraction too many for her husband (Steven Mackintosh), who also happens to work in internal affairs. Capping Regan’s week: a robbery call that escalates into a hellish, roving street shootout, like “Heat” exported to Trafalgar Square. Tune in for this sequence, and to see Winstone flesh out his familiar supporting-bruiser persona. Extras: In featurettes, the cast and writer-director Nick Love praise the original series at length, even noting that Winstone began his career with a bit part on the show. So how about supplying some clips? (Entertainment One, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.98)

CULT

JOHN DIES AT THE END (2013)

Dave (Chase Williamson, above) and John (Rob Mayes) are slacker pals whose world turns surreal when they’re injected with “soy sauce,” a gateway-to-other-dimensions drug that unleashes grisly, reality-warping forces back home. Super-size death slugs, demonically anthropomorphized freezer meat, buddies phoning from beyond the grave to foretell the next two minutes — it feels like the work of some newbie geek gleefully dumping Lynch, Cronenberg, and “Donnie Darko” into his creative Cuisinart. What do you know, turns out the director is veteran B-meister Don Coscarelli, whose “Phantasm II” hit Blu-ray last week. Extras: Interviews with Coscarelli and cameo player/producer Paul Giamatti. (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98)

DOCUMENTARY

KNUCKLEBALL! (2012)

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If recent Red Sox history has left you struggling to muster your usual enthusiasm for the new season, the antidote could be this cinematically shot portrait of Tim Wakefield (inset) and others who’ve made an unlikely living throwing the knuckler. Part of the film’s appeal is that Wakefield and counterpart R.A. Dickey (now playing for the division rival Blue Jays) are thoroughly self-effacing personalities, more inclined to smile than bristle at the skepticism they’ve faced in baseball. But the game footage is also terrific, a captivating slo-mo reminder that these guys aren’t just playing soft toss. Extras: Extensive supplemental interviews. (FilmBuff, $24.98)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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