Single father and former cop Tom Carver (Samuel L. Jackson)
has an unusual vocation - he cleans up crime scenes. But when
he's called in to sterilize a wealthy suburban residence after
a brutal shooting, Carver is shocked to learn he may have
unknowingly erased crucial evidence, entangling himself in
a dirty criminal cover up. Directed by Renny Harlin and co-starring
Eva Mendes, Ed Harris, Keke Palmer, and Luis Gusman, Cleaner
is a dark, gritty crime thriller that proves cleaning up is
the dirtiest job there is.
With so many stars like Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider),
Ed Harris (National Treasure 2), Keke Palmer (Akeelah and
the Bee) and Samuel L Jackson (Way too many recent films to
refer him to) in this Renny Harlin (The Covenant ) directed
flick, why does the Cleaner feel like a B grade movie or one
of those straight to video “not so good” flicks?
it’s the plastering of the respective stars’ face
on the front cover or perhaps it’s the choice of movie
title that vaguely sound like one that you might expect from
fallen stars such as Wesley Snipes or Steven Seagal (Pistol
Whipped). But giving this disc a spin in the player, this
film that never made it to the theatres both locally or in
the states, actually satisfy to a degree that one would not
had expected from such title.
off, we got a very interesting and even lighthearted introduction
of the Cleaner job in a C.S.I - esque of style. There are
frequent close up shots of objects ( tight shots ) that the
director want to focus on and the sassy fast editing manner
actually made it look pretty stylishly cool. The introduction
also hit the nail about the job of a cleaner (not the coffee
shop type but the one that cleans up crime scenes). It’s
something that we don’t get to see much of but essentially
necessary for life to move on after a tragedy.
we have, Tom Culter (Samuel L Jackson – Do note that
there a difference between the name listed on the back of
the Dvd cover and from the movie itself), a very serious worker
who takes pride in his job. Neat and very organized to a point
that it drives home the message that he is very efficiently
professional in his job. But obviously the film won’t
waste precious time in setting up something if it was unimportant
to the story and we get a loophole in his line of routine
work that caused Tom’s skills to be turned on him (Not
a spoiler ! it’s listed on the dvd’s synopsis).
you might wonder what is stopping Tom from going to the police
and coming clean with the mistake (Sound like a Pun, doesn’t
it?). That’s where the plot thickens and things are
not what it seems. Characters and events are set in motion
and complication with the seedy past kept catching up.
Just when it seems that this title might be one of those gems
in straight to video release, it started to slow down by the
part when all the ingredients are coming together for the
gelling process. It became awfully predictable (use my method
of prediction, “any supporting character that seemly
had appears to be pointless in the movie will be the villain
in question” and you will have no problem figuring out
who did it) and rather long winded (especially when it’s
Eva Mendes’ turn to share her character’s life
Thankfully, Cleaner gotten young Keke Palmer and the veteran
Samuel L Jackson to engage us with their on screen chemistry
as dad with troubled teenager scenario. Personally I can’t
help but feel that there should be more in store for the young
actress in the future.
Eva Mendes is a good visual distraction but as again like
her role in Ghost Rider, she had very little to work with
to help out with the acting credibility. Ed Harris was equally
wasted here as he was in National Treasure 2. There isn’t
much material to work on and it really make one misses his
performance in older classic such as The Rock and The Hours.
Overall, Cleaner had an unexpected first half that was good
enough to understand why Samuel L Jackson and the other cast
sign on for this film (beside the monetary reason) but by
the second half, it veered back to the sterile premise that’s
too safe, boring and predictable that watered down the engaging
first half down to what a straight to video flicks are expected
SPECIAL FEATURES :
There are three extra segments included for this
Dvd for the viewer to choose.
The segments that probably got cut for pacing purposes but
it’s a shame because it contain parts that gave Samuel
L Jackson’s character more depth and even give more
punch to the emotional dynamics between respective characters.
There even a segment that shows Samuel L Jackson getting paid
after completing the questionable job (something that was
sorely missing when watching the show on it’s own previously).
A funny thing to note as this segment comes with subtitles!
But only in Thai and Chinese so if you can’t read either
of those two languages, tough luck.
Director Renny Harlin’s commentary here is as informative
and interesting one as it’s an obligatory praise session
for those who had worked with him in this film project. Although
he is not exactly the best directors around, he sounded quite
willing to share various details of his filming process, his
thoughts on characters, actors and there’s rarely a
quiet moment during this commentary track.
various trivial information that he shared with us would be
stuff like Steri Clean is actually the name of a real company
that is base in LA. Renny Harlin actually went to Steri Clean
to research about the cleaner’s job and was so impressed
with what he learned from them that he asked if he could use
their company name for this movie.
it came across that this guy really loves making films (and
his country) and his enthusiasm infectious enough that made
me wants to dig his older films with his commentaries to hear
what he got to say. One of the finest commentary tracks that’s
worth listening to.
again, there subtitles provided for this commentary track
but only the Chinese and the Thai subtitles are provided.
One of the most surprising trailers that were included in
this section is the one for Redbelt, one of the films that
are highly anticipated by this reviewer. Then there’s
the quirky patience challenging flick, Southland Tales from
Richard Kelly. In other word, it’s trailer galore and
hopefully the trailers included here will eventually make
it to Singapore.
comes with English, French and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 with
a whole range of subtitles to choose for (English, French,
Chinese and Thai). This film is presented in anamorphic widescreen
and the images are crispy sharp as nowadays films are expected.
by Richard Lim Jr