Sean Bean has got to be one of the most beloved character actors out there. He has starred in some of the biggest movies, but has always remained a character actor and a humble actor. Even after starring in the Lord of the Rings films, then helming a hit show like Game of Thrones, he still manages to do smaller interesting films as well, always bringing a certain gravitas to any role he plays.
Ewan (Sean Bean) is a secret service agent that has been deep undercover for some time. He has been tracking a terrorist cell that threatens to strike at any time. When the service learns that the terrorist cell is recruiting ‘cleanskins’, terrorists with no records or traceable history, they turn Ewan loose with no restrictions in pursuing and eliminating a British born Asian suicide bomber Ash (Abhin Galeya). Ewan must stop at nothing to find Ash and stop him and his cell from killing thousands of innocent people.
From the trailer for Cleanskin, I was expecting a fairly by the numbers action movie about a rogue going after a terrorist. Much to my surprise and delight, Cleanskin was much more than that. The film really takes a close and intimate look at how a terrorist cell operates and how they recruit new members who end up willing to sacrifice their lives for the cell’s cause. Seemingly ordinary people who are somehow convinced that the cell’s mission is worth everything they have. A greater good. The character of Ash is identifiable and relatable. He is not an extremist caricature of a terrorist as we are used to seeing in films with this subject matter. He is a regular guy who is pulled into this life and essentially brainwashed into carrying out their orders. Galeya’s performance is one that should really have garnered more attention as he is sympathetic and realistic, which is not a common way for a terrorist to be portrayed in film. As usual, Bean is excellent as well. His character of Ewan is a guy who wants to do the right thing and clean as much evil off the earth as he can, but he struggles with the ways in which he must do it. But he does not hesitate, he is as focused and determined to fight for his cause as those he pursues. And sometimes he is as brutal and ruthless. Cleanskin really does not take sides in telling a story of terrorism and those who fight it. Instead it just shows you two examples of men on either side of the story and presents them to the viewer to draw their own conclusions.
The Blu-ray from eOne is very nice. While the film is not full of colors, it does have a nice level of detail and clarity. The color palette is slightly washed out, but it looks like that is the intention of the filmmaker. Still, the colors that are there are solid, black levels are average and the surround is decent as well. Not a showy presentation, but a solid one nonetheless. A great thriller with a nice twist on the terrorist story and some great action make Cleanskin a hidden gem among this month’s releases. Recommended.