Sunday, 23 January 2011

Film Review: CLEANER (2007)

Director: Renny Harlin
Running time: 88 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

USA release date: 27th May 2008 (DVD Premiere)

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd January 2011.


I watched this on the recommendation of a friend and, to be honest, he owes me 88 minutes of my life back. It’s a crime drama set against the backdrop of the world of forensic clean-up. The guys that clean up what’s left after the body has been removed. I’ll give you my thoughts after this brief summary (summary haters please stay behind the tape while I clean up the next paragraph).

Tom Cutler is a retired cop who is now making a career out of cleaning up crime scenes. His wife was killed some years ago and he lives with his teenage daughter, Rose. He turns up to the scene of a murder to find nobody at home but a key has been left for him. Having completed the job he returns home only to find he still has the key. Going back the next day he’s surprised to find the wife, Ann Norcut, at home holding a children’s birthday party. He asks if he can speak to her husband, but she says he is out. At this point he tries to cover his tracks, realising that it might be a set-up. He hides the evidence he collected but things are about to turn bad for the former cop. His ex-partner, Eddie Lorenzo, gets in touch and Tom takes the opportunity to ask him about the case. He denies all knowledge, but the investigating officer, another former colleague, Jim Vargas, is slightly more forthcoming. The press have, by now, got hold of the story that Ann Norcut’s husband is missing and Tom is between a rock and a hard place. Not everyone is telling the truth and this can only mean trouble.

A very complicated plot does not help this film. It strikes me the filmmakers are trying a little too hard to be clever and failing to hit the mark. The performances were OK, but nothing to write home about; Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t really stretched as Tom Cutler, Ed Harris had a stroll in the park as Eddie Lorenzo and Eva Mendes was nothing particularly special as Ann Norcut. Honourable mentions should go to Luis Guzm├ín as Det. Jim Vargas, Keke Palmer who I thought was actually pretty good as Rose Cutler and it was also nice to see Robert Forster as Arlo Grange.

It was almost like watching one of those old Philip Marlowe movies where Marlowe was a crime scene clean-up guy instead of a Private Eye. It certainly has that feel, but with nothing like the style it needed to carry it off. Over all I found this one pretty disappointing and I can see why it went straight to DVD… NOT recommended.

My score: 5.2/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
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