DVD REVIEW: Cleanskin

Cleanskin by Hadi Hajaig is a terrorist thriller. Ewan (Sean Bean) is a secret service agent who is tasked with taking down a home-grown Muslim terrorist cell. In particular, he has the mission to take out suicide bomber Ash (Abhin Galeya). As Ewan hunts him down, Ash struggles with the choices in his life that have led to him becoming a terrorist. It is impressive how much Hajaig does: it is written, directed and even produced by him.

The story moves at a lightning pace, never letting you go. The direction is stunning. The action scenes are very stylish, feeling like a pulp noir thriller. The death scenes look the part, often looking more like what you would expect in a typical comic book than a film. Further many of the angles are beautifully shot adding impact and intensity to the film. the story is full of unexpected twists and turns. Just when you think that you knew what is happening, something changes. This is a really good way to keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through the film.

It is nice to see the villain Ash getting some time on the screen, explaining his back story. Many films would not go into so much depth into the villain leaving this kind of characterisation to our hero only. It should be credited for this. Further although he is stereotypically the villain there are more shades of grey than anything else. He is clearly in the wrong but Ewan does many things wrong too and it shows reality: there are rarely good people and bad people, most people (especially ones who are in these kind of circumstances) are somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately by developing Ash to such an extent, Bean’s character remains fundamentally flawed. We learn little about him and he remains one-dimensional: a noir detective or a more savage version of James Bond.

Overall, Cleanskin is a good solid, action thriller. It is impressive what Hajaig has managed to do on such a small budget. He has proven that he is a good writer, with only some of the dialogue feeling slightly corny, and an even more impressive director. Its one key problem is also one of its strengths: the brilliant characterisation of the antagonist led to a deflated anti-hero with little depth. If you enjoy your thrillers then this is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 4/5
Reporter: Luke Halsall

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