A film that’s utterly anchored by a terrific central performance from Sean Bean, Cleanskin
is a gritty British thriller, dealing with a sensitive subject. Bean’s character is a secret service agent, one who is tracking down a terrorist cell in the UK, but the film also devotes a good chunk of time to one of the terrorists, too. That focus is trained on Ash, played by Abhin Galeya, who finds himself persuaded into terrorism, and inevitably on a collision path with Bean. Cleanskin
then builds things up on different sides of the law, before its inevitable climax.
It’s a brave and well-handled film at its best, too. There’s the odd tonal problem, where the deathly serious drama at the heart of the story is sacrificed for a less deathly serious action sequence, but there’s a real commitment here to tell the story well. Bean, too, is excellent, dragging the film through its weaker moments, and proving once more what a compelling screen presence he is.
It’s a pity that the disc’s extra features don’t dig too much deeper into the complex subject matter, although you do get some behind the scenes material to complement the main feature. And, the presentation of the movie is terrific, too.
Cleanskin is a divisive film, though, courtesy of the subject decisions it’s not afraid to make. In spite of its flaws, it’s a compelling piece of cinema, that overcomes its tight budget to present something both interesting and engaging. No easy feat. --Jon Foster
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: This privately-funded little film 'Cleanskin' starring Sean Bean, Charlotte Rampling, James Fox and Michelle Ryan takes the standard 'lone vigiliante tasked by MI5 to take out a domestic terror cell' story (as described in this wonderfully misleading trailer) and flip it on its head. Sean Bean stars as the lone vigilante, Charlotte Rampling his controller. It was a very strange film to watch because slowly, like a prolongued water torture scene, you realise ... you realise that this film's playing with your mind. The good guys are painted bad. The bad guys are painted a vague editorial colour to suit the film's ulterior motive. ...Cleanskin (2012) ( Clean skin )