Customer Reviews: Cleanskin
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Truthfully, I'd give any movie with Sean Bean in it a chance and that was a primary point of interest in checking out Hadi Hajaig's "Cleanskin." Include the marvelous Charlotte Rampling, and it's an added bonus that's hard to resist. "Cleanskin" is yet another British action film that examines the effects of terrorism on domestic soil. There have been so many films and TV shows on this subject, it might well be impossible to offer up anything new. "Cleanskin," from a plotting standpoint, certainly isn't breaking the mold you've come to expect. It opens with a bold action sequence, obvious budget constraints, and sketchy character development. After about thirty minutes, I'd almost written it off as unimaginative and completely routine. But the uneven tone of the opening slowly starts to settle itself into a groove and the picture begins to get progressively better. Credit must be given to Bean. He doesn't have a lot of shading, but his relentless brutality is riveting. Even better, though, is Abhin Galeya. Galeya, as the terrorist, is given the story's most complex arc and really paints a compelling foe who is surprisingly identifiable.

Bean is an undercover operative within the British Secret Service. On assignment, he loses some explosives in a violent heist. His disappointed superiors (Rampling and James Fox) task him to right the situation, still keeping the entire operation off the books. Bean is single-minded and uncompromising. With a new partner, he'll do whatever it takes to achieve mission goals. In addition to this story, we also meet Galeya and (through flashbacks) we see how he developed into a violent extremist. While the earliest flashbacks have a little awkwardness (and his recruitment isn't particularly compelling), they do serve as an introduction that the screenplay builds on. As you might anticipate, the alternate plot threads have Bean tracking the explosives and Galeya moving toward the ultimate goal of using them. As the two intersect, who will emerge victorious? Can Bean stop the next attack? And can he trust those around him?

As I said, the beginning of "Cleanskin" is incredibly uneven. But stick with it. Galeya, whose initial motivations are relatively unexplored, gives a strong and compelling performance. Although not a big budget spectacle, the action sequences have a gritty brutality that serves the piece well. Even the plot gets twistier and more involving as the film progresses. Although not perfect, I'd definitely recommend this to fans of Bean or of the genre. The movie gets stronger and stronger and ends with a pleasantly grim final act well worth waiting for. I didn't expect to, but in the end I really came to like this spare and vicious little film. Starts at 3 stars, finishes at 4 1/2. KGHarris, 9/12.
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on July 16, 2012
I picked up an advanced copy and thought it was going to be a typical British movie which I do not like. I was pleasantly surprised how very good it was.

The story is interesting. It had plenty of twists and turns that kept me interested throughout keeping your interest up until the end. Some of the story, I thought could have used some work, for example, a fundamentalist Muslim cleric is unlikely to be too excited about going to his boy birthday party. If he did, he would not mention it publicly. The scene, however, is important as it shows the attitude the cleric has to his disciple. To the people that organise suicide bombers, these people are a weapon, not people. Some of the other scenes on recruitment to Islamic terrorism seemed a bit too simple - Hollywoodish. Still overall it was well done. It showed a young muslim guy looking for something and how he gets drawn to terrorism.

The acting was good. The characters are interesting. I did like the fighting scenes too. They were much more realistic then what movies often now days of a young skinny woman who takes on he-man and wins.

I would recommend it.
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on July 21, 2012
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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on January 25, 2013
I have mixed feelings as I sit down to write this review of Cleanskin. I was drawn to the movie because of its setting in the UK, a somewhat different locale for a counterterrorism thriller, and because it featured Sean Bean(one of my favorite actors) in the leading role.

The first hour or so of the movie is pretty good, a solid four-star film as I state above, with a great deal of attention paid to the radicalization of a British-born Muslim law student, perhaps at the expense of developing Sean Bean's backstory. While this does become a key focus of the film, I fail to understand how other reviewers have come away with an impression of "pro-Muslim bias", given the rather sinister portrayal of the imam and the heinous deeds committed in the name of Islam throughout the course of the film. A rationalization process is always present, whether you're dealing with terrorists or serial killers--yet some people seem to feel the need to go into hysterics whenever such a process is explained and examined. I applaud the producers for taking the time to present a more careful, thoughtful treatment of the subject than is typically found in an action thriller.

That said, with roughly a half hour to go till the end, the movie completely derails into some sort of government conspiracy angle that is never fully explained and makes little sense when taken together with the rest of the film. The overall effect strikes one as a bit bizarre, and to be quite blunt, ruined a great deal of my enjoyment. I would also say that I thought Sean Bean was underutilized in the movie--I wanted to see more of him, know more about his character. But that didn't happen.

Ultimately, this was a film with a lot of unrealized potential and I found myself disappointed, despite some good moments early on. I would recommend anyone looking for a British spy film to instead check out a season of the BBC's TV show "Spooks" or "MI-5" as it is known here in the States.
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on February 17, 2013
This film starring Sean Bean, it has to do with terrorism in the U.K and eradicating the criminals to the fullest extent of the law. For a person that likes espionage this is a great film for them dealing with muslim sect groups that try to bring their culture and beliefs to a european world, but in the end they fail and the Queen Elizabeth ll of England and her agents are willing to protect the throne from all enemies foreign and domestic.
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on December 15, 2012
The title is confusing, the pace of the film rapid, but not phrenetic. Acting is superb throughout, but the real kicker is how well the story is developed in the length of the movie. I was intrigued, thinking, guessing and just thoroughly entertained! A great movie that very few have seen. We need more good "sleeper," movies like this. Enjoy.
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on February 9, 2013
Worth a rental. I watched it about a month ago and already have forgotten the plotline....heck, the entire story for that matter.
Sean Bean is always a great actor to watch. Can't blame him for an overly famiiar and thus forgettable storyline.
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on January 28, 2013
Fast paced keeps you interested , twists and turns and quite violent. Sean Bean is very decent although I enjoy his acting ever since the Sharpe series. This is a far cry from the Sharpe but worth a watch if like espionage/ revenge type flicks!!
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on January 4, 2013
This was an interesting movie! I don't want to give too many details away as not to spoil the movie for others but a short thought about what the movie is about is this: this movie is about homegrown terrorism that takes place in the UK but is probably very relevant to most of the world. Fairly well acted and fastpaced, is a movie that I would watch again and I think everyone should see this movie at least once!
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on November 12, 2012
This movie was well-written and acted. Only down side was a few slow moments, but then it is a mystery-thriller more than an action movie so no roller coaster ride here. Sean Bean's secret service character doesn't channel Bond or any of the American action heroes so the action is more low-key. Although the fighting sequences are fairly realistic.

One issue I found was with the pistol silencers. One scene we have the the next we don't. The scene with the lads running about the streets of London in broad daylight busting caps without silencers was awkward; especially since they just had silencers a few moments before. They go banging about and no one is the wiser in a city where guns are banned??? Tsk-Tsk!!

It gets a tad side-tracked with the love story bit, but even that has some relevance to the plot. I deducted two stars just because of the lags, some of which is caused by the bouncing back and forth between "then and now" --- for crying out loud, there is a time and place for flashbacks and a way to use them effectively, this movie doesn't manage it well. I think it adds to the slowness and confusion. Character development could have been better.

I tend to appreciate the roller-coaster style movies where something is constantly happening. This was somewhat too slow for my taste. It doesn't serve to "make one think" much either so I can't even give it credit for trying to be a message movie, which it clearly was trying to be. While I found this worth the $3.99.

Rent it? YES, if you like the whole anti-terrorist thing, and some blood. Own it? No, there are better movies to rent or own.
Thanks for reading my reviews! Hope it helps you make a good decision.
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