If there was any reason to have a British Jack Bauer ala 24 Sean Bean might be your man. In Cleanskin his latest thriller Bean possess some of those Bauer- Esque traits, remorsefulness but is Cleanskin just another 24 clone or a decent post 9-11 thriller?
Sean Bean plays Ewan a British Secret Service Agent who is sent on the trail of an Islamic extremist who is responsible for blowing up a London restaurant with semtex stolen from the British government. Under the mysterious suspicious eye of the chain-smoking Charlotte (Charlotte Rampling), Ewan is let loose to hunt down the assailants Ash (Abhin Galeya) a young British Muslim student who is radicalised by cleric Nabil (Peter Colycorpou). As things start to get intense Ewan’s quest to find the terrorist’s personal tragedy and a lust for revenge maybe just distracting his focus on what is really going on.
Here in Blighty, we might be the home if the world’s greatest fictional spy James Bond but we rarely see UK thrillers that are not based on fictional enemies.Cleanskin is a nice change away from the fictional villain to one that is relevant to today’s society, even better the film is not CIA ops chasing the bad guys as this is a British take on post 9-11 as people do tend to forget 9-11 affected everyone. The cast are fantastic especially the films two leads, Sean Bean delivers an intense menacing rage driven performance who’ll do anything for ‘Queen& Country’ including the dirty work if it means getting what he wants. This is where the Jack Bauer traits come into place when he tortures a prostitute for information and setting a man on fire too! Galeya is equally great (possibly better)as the young British Muslim whom at times you strangely sympathetic more for at times, a young man trying to find his feet in the world. We meet Ash during many flashbacks at university seeing his romance with Kate (Tuppence Middleton) who seems to settle Ash and here we hope she has had distracted him from taking his Jihad. He is a confused man as he can’t decide where his loyalties lie which makes it easier for the sinister charismatic and Dangerous Nabil to manipulate Ash into the Holy War.
What really lets Cleanskin down is the script. The Ash part of the film works well, however, Bean’s character story maybe heavy on the violence but thin on the story side. Both characters stories never feel completely together clashing together as if there like two different films with a frustrating ending to top it off making you wonder if you missed something.
In retrospect for a film like Cleanskin director Hadi Hajaig has sensibly used his wit and created some great looking action scenes especially the housing estate. There’s no hold back on the violence which we see in the interrogation but let down by the undeveloped character Ewan (Bean)however what the film does do is show that the film’s 2 leads have been manipulated. Ewan damgaed goods, Ash the confused young man in need of guidance both controlled by sinister hierarchy like puppets on a string. Cleanskin may not be the perfect film but what we get is an engaging , brutal at times that radicalising is a tactic not just by the so called bad guys.
★★★| Paul Devine
Crime, Drama | UK, 2012 | 18| 2nd July 2012 (UK) |Warner Home Video | Dir.Hadi Hajaig |Sean Bean,Abhin Galeya,Charlotte Rampling, Peter Polycarpou,Tuppence Middleton | Buy/Pre-Order: Cleanskin – Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) / DVD