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3.9 out of 5 stars113
3.9 out of 5 stars
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 July 2012
A small British thriller that looks at the hard issue of extremist terrorism in the current world.

What could have been controversial is handled surprisingly well, as both sides are given screen time, and some justification, although clearly terrorism is not justified, the film does at least attempt to show how young men may be led astray to do suicide bombings.

Shot stylishly with cold London landscapes, and also filmed with a no holds barred approach to violence, this is gritty film making.

Sean Bean as the vengeful ex soldier on the trail of the would be terrorists is brutal and aggressive (Right up there with his performance in the Nick Love film Outlaw), and when he's on screen it's hard not to take notice added with an emotional element to his character that drives him it's a great performance.

The script is surprisingly intelligent, handling a sensitive subject, and the action, which is perhaps the wrong way to term the film, is brutal, but this is no Hollywood blockbuster, so it's contained to a few brutal gun shoot outs and some very, very brutal fights, that are filmed with urgency of a Bourne film.

In terms of look and style, it came across as a mixture of the BBC tv series Spooks, a little bit of Bourne, and with it's political/religious debates, may be the Bruce Willis/Denzel Washington film The Siege.

A film that shows low budget, does not mean film making skills have to drop to a lower standard.

Well recommended, just don't expect non stop action.
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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
This gritty Brit flick doesn't feature flashy car chases or helicopter chaos. There's minimal explosions and a contained bodycount. This isn't a Hollywood blockbuster. It's a thoughtful, thought-provoking thriller; shot at street level, gritty and violent, in a bleak and barren current-day London

Cleanskin features a sterling performance from Sean Bean as a hard-man undercover agent. He's well matched by his opposite number, Abhin Galeya, who plays Ash, a radicalised British Muslim man. There are two other stand-out turns; one of them especially spine-chilling when an experienced Middle Eastern activist comes to the UK to wreck a little revenge and show the home-grown `freedom fighters' what will be required of them in the long run. The following scenes would make anyone flinch and demonstrate not just a determination to be ready to die for a cause, nor to kill those who are perceived to be involved, but to follow the path of violence to its inevitable end.
Paced as an action-thriller, Cleanskin uses flashbacks to skilfully develop its underlying themes. It shows the emotional manipulation of the agents on each side of the conflict. Most are motivated by grief and revenge, unable to let go of the grievance and so perpetuating the violence. The protagonists exude angry nationalism and repressed rage - but the film doesn't dwell too long on them, and wraps its arguments around a fairly standard, solid plot familiar from every `who can you trust' espionage-thriller.
It does hit a few off notes -- the Muslim cleric who radicalises his flock is something of a cliché -- but the subplot involving Ash's English girlfriend is gripping. We understand more of his motivation watching her drunken university years through is eyes. He drifts away from the party crowd, the flirting and jeering and braggadiccio, and becomes altogether more serious. And more sinister.
You'd expect the writer to tie this plot thread up with a stereotypical conclusion: him a terrorist, her a happily married mother of three. Instead nothing is quite so clear cut.

On top of all that, you have the main plot `stop the bombers, save the world' which drives the action and Sean Bean's character onwards.
A clever, entertaining and engaging movie. It might not be art, but it's definitely worth two hours of your time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2012
Great film based in London, about an MI5 agent/team and a terrorist cell. You can see how the cell starts, as the film goes back in time. It's "Spooks" but in a film format, and without all the gadget wizardry!!!

Sean Bean makes the film, worth a look. It's not James Bond, this "could happen" today, which is worrying!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Terrorist are able to steal some plastic explosives from British Intelligence. The British have placed a tracer in the Semtex explosives. When a terrorist uses the explosives, Charlotte Rampling (Charlotte McQueen) of the agency asks agent Ewan (Sean Bean) to do whatever is necessary to find the terrorists, even going beyond standard protocol. Mark (Tom Burke) will be his young assistant.

Meanwhile, we do get to see our terrorist in a subplot. It starts six years ago and goes into his indoctrination and transformation. The film let's us see the conflict within the Muslim community as those who see the west as evil, those who destroy and rape their culture. And then there are those who admire the west for its freedom and opportunities it affords people of all religions.

This is one of the better British crime/drama/thrillers I have seen, primarily because they have imitated American films and have stopped trying to do them the British way with quirky humor and characters that didn't fit the rest of the script. Americans like their crime heroes to have above human qualities. Sean Bean gives us the rogue agent we love. Good script. Good acting. Action, mystery, drama, and the usual twist. 4 1/2 stars.

PARENTAL GUIDE: F-bomb, sex, and nudity (Tuppence Middleton).
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2012
This was a great film. Atmospheric & dark. I did have to go back & watch a couple of scenes as I'd missed an important part of the plotline that made the ending confusing on first watch, but whn I'd made sense of that it proved to be a very satisfying experience. Sean Bean is Sean Bean as one of the main characters but is perfect for the moody role. I paid under a tenner for this & felt it was a good buy & I shall probably watch the whole film through again in a couple of months time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 January 2013
There are many reviews up here, on Amazon, from rubbish to brilliant.

Sean Bean IS Bean (Sean, not the Mr Bean, that's briefly seen on TV) and that's not a bad thing - you know what you are getting with him and here he delivers. Charlotte Rampling adds gravitas and class as a top MI6 boss, though she doesn't have much screen time.

The violence is where it needs to be, story-wise and very well done. Strong, to the point, it pulls no punches but is fairly restrained in its quantity. The London locations make it very real to us Brits and whilst a little 'TV Episode-ish' at times (Spooks has been uttered, more than once) this is a quality, extra-length feature episode.

The story, about Muslims living in London and terrorist cells is both relevant and of course, controversial and everyone will have their own opinion and stance on this and so I'm not 'going there'. However, in comparison to those TV dramas mentioned before, this one seems a lot more complete and sensical and thus, more satisfying, overall.

However, the star has to be almost unknown writer/director Hadi Hajaig. I could find almost nothing about him on IMDb, but that source estimated the film's budget as a mere £2 million. That might sound a lot to you and me, but it really is peanuts, especially when filming in - and over - one of the most expensive cities in the world - and for a 105 min feature film and decent cast, with a couple of real stars, too. At no time did I feel the direction lacking, a bit unexceptional and ordinary, maybe but it always did what it had to. I also found the music suitably rousing/poignant, too.

I saw this on Sky Movies and whilst it was good overall, both the subject matter (a bit grizzly, to be honest) and that it didn't scream 'watch me again' suggests that this is a good rental or TV watch - and thus 3.5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a symmetrical film where a jihadi terror cell and its counter-terror counterpart (two ferocious hitmen) struggle through the politics and scheming of their respective controllers. Very little is as it appears as the two groups move towards a climax that does not occur where one might expect. You will need to keep your wits about you. Lots of good acting and some real attention to the reasons both sides have for what they do. The film is violent in a coldly believable fashion (no guns with 50 round magazines, or bullets that leave no wounds). If the Bond reboot seeks to bring home the image of the stone killer this goes one further. Excellent cast and use of location.
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Sean Bean (Sharpe) plays ex-army man Ewan. Detailed into domestic security, he is security detail for a weapons-smuggler who loses a shipment of Semtex. When MI6 discovers that the explosive is being used by a group of terrorists, with multiple cells across London, Ewan is let off the chain with partner Mark (Tom Burke - The Kid) and under the radar to do whatever it takes to stop this threat to the nation.

Cleanskin is the term for a person previously unknown to intelligence services who commits an act of terrorism, hence the name of the film. What follows is a decent romp around the country with plenty of furtive dealing and meetings and you are never quite sure who is using who; whether it's Ewan and his handler or Ash and his cleric. Sean Bean performs well as the stoic-soldier with a haunted past. Abhin Galeye plays Ash - the young muslim with great flair and carries that majority of this film - large section of it are set 3 & 6 years ago as we see Ash's progression from idealistic young-man to bitter-extremist with the help of his cleric Peter Polycarpou. Whilst this is a great story - I felt the over-extended flashbacks detracted very much from the story, diluting what was otherwise, a frantic run around trying to stay a step ahead of the bombings. Ash's love-story was flimsy at best despite a solid performance from romantic interest Tuppence Middleton (Tormented) and again, diluted the pace of this otherwise solid-action film. Charlotte Rampling provides an exceptionally well-acted rendition of 'M' (not titled as such here, but it's the same role) rivalling even Judi Dench.

It's a pulse-heightening affair for the most-part, but gets bogged down in flashbacks in multiple time-frames which is ultimately rather distracting from the far more thriller storyline. Worth a watch for Sean Bean's best recent performance.
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on 8 November 2013
Ewan is a British Secret Service Agent faced with the task of pursuing and eliminating a British born suicide bomber Ash and his terrorist cell

Whilst the narrative that centres around Ash is him wrestling with his conscience and reflecting on his journey to terrorism.

I was expecting a sub terrorist thriller with Bean running around shooting people and spouting one liners, that's just me growing up in the eighties.

What I got was a lovely little movie that centres around Ash, and showing the viewer just how he became to turn against his country and his people, it's almost as if the makers want us to sympathise with him, in sense it works, but then the other people who are with him are portrayed as the most despicable people seen in the film.

The film flits between Bean, who has made some sort of connection with a job and Ash, flashbacks of Ash at uni and being drawn in.

It's really made well, and pulls no punches with its subject matter, and it's very, very violent. Not in your face violent, but the camera doesn't draw away for the viewer.

Bean is fantastic as usual, and he really doesn't get to say a lot, he spends the majority of the film shouting and punching people.

The ending is a bit dour, but other than that, it's a fine movie, cruelly ignored on its theatrical release.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2014
A gritty and realistic thriller that goes beyond a simplistic shoot 'em up plot. Hence the script is well written and thought provoking. The acting is top notch from the cast.
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