E1 Entertainment // 2012 // 107 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 20th, 2012
Fight fire with fire.
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) stars as Ewan, a top-flight secret agent for Britain. His most recent assignment was a botched explosives-walking scheme that backfired in a big way; lethal plastic explosives have made their way into the hands of a radicalized British citizen who plans to dispatch a team of suicide bombers into populated areas of London and blow them all to kingdom come.
Ewan's superiors, smarting from the screw-up and scrambling to engage damage control, green-light a black-bag operation. Our hero is tasked with a simple mission: track down those responsible for the theft and end these attacks before they begin. So he's off, on a violent rampage to track down the brains behind the operation, and he'll indeed do whatever is necessary, even if that means punching women or setting squatters on fire.
Sounds slick and nasty, right? My thoughts exactly, especially when the film kicked-off, blasting out of the gate with the theft, some gun battles, and Sean Bean unleashed. It looked like I was in store for solid dose of hardcore action.
Wrong. Just when Cleanskin hits its momentum, the brakes are applied, and the narrative shifts to the antagonist. Which is when I realized I'm not going to get the straight-arrow action experience I had been hoping for. Nope, I'm going to get a nice, hefty helping of nuance.
Which is what follows, and it is indeed bountiful. We track the bad guy's trajectory towards radicalization, his interaction with a terrorist imam, and the tension he feels when he begins to see the deadly fallout of some of his actions. So, no...this isn't a simple actioner, but yet another thriller that's so far up it's own butt, it loses sight of what is actually entertaining. And that's pretty much what Cleanskin had cooking in the first place: Sean Bean kicking unholy amounts of ass.
Instead, we're forced to sit through some schmuck battling angst, while he straps bomb vests to dumbasses, then beats up some dude who hits on his girlfriend, followed by more angst, before finally getting his bomb-making on. An incredibly lame villain, who could have been far more effective with less screen time.
In the interest of spoiler avoidance, I won't mention whether or not the Old White Man Cabal is involved with these bombings. (But they are.)
In the end, Cleanskin is a missed opportunity. Lord knows we have enough flicks that try to get clever and nuanced on us; why not put one together that serves up a strong lead, delivering thrills, in simplified storytelling, to maximized pace and excitement? Guess I'll have to keep looking towards Indonesia for my action moviemaking.
The Blu-ray is a top performer, bringing a high-quality 2.35:1/1080p transfer that pops with detail and resolution. Joining this pristine visual fidelity is an active DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, and one extra -- a making-of featurette.
High hopes were rendered flaccid, when Cleanskin succumbed to an
over-emphasis on heavy-handed storytelling. Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated