Today: April 10, 2024

Cleanskin DVD

Cleanskin is a British terrorist thriller starring everybody’s favourite Yorkshire man, Sean Bean.

is a British terrorist thriller starring everybody’s favourite Yorkshire man Sean Bean.

Its name is a reference to a special undercover, be it government or
terrorist, operative whose identity is unknown to the forces they intend to
disrupt. And both examples of ‘Cleanskins’ are used in this film. Sean Bean
plays a disgruntled secret service agent who is tasked with eliminating
terrorist and potential suicide bomber Ash, played by Abhin Galeya.
Neither of them know who the other is or that they are in pursuit of each other.
So from the get go Cleanskin has a fantastic premise and for the
majority of the film this works really well, but there are a few niggling issues
that let it down.

We are first introduced to Sean Bean’s
Ewan, who appears to be working security for a high end businessman. Within the
first few minutes of the film the businessman in question is assassinated in a
spectacular shootout. Immediately after a horrific suicide bombing
takes place in a central London restaurant whose main targets were another
group of businessmen who were associated with Ewan’s former charge. Ewan
is then informed of a terrorist cell that intend to carry out more attacks in
the next few days and it is down to him to take them out.

Up to this point you may be
thinking that this sounds fairly dull and predictable but at this point the
film does a complete 180 and changes its perspective. Rather than Ewan as the
main character our attention is focused to Ash whose back story is the really
interesting part of this film. Flashing back six years we see Ash as a promising, but controversial, law student who is living at
university with his girlfriend Kate, played by the gorgeous Tuppence
Whilst studying Ash experiences a series of emotions. He is
in constant conflict with Kate due to her partying lifestyle and is subject to
some horrible racist abuse due to his beliefs as a Muslim. It’s at this point
that he meets Nabil (Peter Polycarpou) who seems like a friendly but
slightly shady character. It transpires that he is in fact a radical cleric type who
is recruiting young Muslim men to carry out these awful acts. If Four Lions portrayed
this horror in an ironic and comedic fashion, Cleanskin does it with a sinister
and unsettling aura.

Sensing his personal life and ambitions
are imminently about to fall apart, Ash agrees to become a member of Nabil’s
growing cell. However, he still has doubts about its legitimacy and constantly
questions his motifs. Meanwhile, Ewan is hunting down and killing any potential
terrorists and of course our two protagonists are on a collision course. The
problem is Ash is given such a compelling backstory and character it
leaves you wanting more from Ewan, who is given very little dialogue and only a
snippet of personal history. Maybe Cleanskin would have been better
focusing on Ash, with Ewan constantly in the background with a more stealthy
unknown quality. What stops this element of the film falling apart is a great
supporting cast. Sean Bean is given
the always superb Charlotte Rampling, who you may recognise from Melancholia
and Never Let Me Go. Ewan is joined by rookie agent Mark,
played by Tom Burke, who
plays his role subtly but well and gave a brilliant performance in the highly
underrated Telstar. Ash on the other hand, rekindles his love life with
Kate played with radiance by Middleton. For anyone who saw the
kooky little British film Skeletons will
again witnessed another fantastic supporting performance by Middleton. Lets
hope she can get a few more big roles under her belt in the near future because
she is an exciting young British actress.

Unfortunately for Cleanskin, the ending
is anything but clean. A confusing conspiracy is uncovered and
characters seem to abandon their morals towards its conclusion. For
the most part it manages to maintain a realistic output without blowing what
must have been a modest budget. However, there is a small scene towards the end
where we view a news stream of events in which the usual set of scrolling
headlines meander along at the bottom of the screen but, rather than keep it
simple, it includes daft little jokes like ‘Spurs win the Champions League’ (at
least make them plausible) and ‘Battle for Xmas No.1 hots up’. These sort of
things are only minute but let down an otherwise interesting film.

With a bigger budget and a bit of
tweaking here and there Cleanskin could be a really strong British film that
would attract a large audience. As it stands though it is a compelling film
that has a few flaws but is much better than it has any right to be.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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