Ewan is a British Secret Service operative, tasked with finding out who a delivery of plastic explosive is meant for, but before he can fulfil his mission his target is killed & the plastic explosive taken by an unknown assailant, who also leaves Ewan for dead.
When the explosive is used without warning at a busy restaurant the Secret Service fears there is more attacks to come so now recovered, Ewan is tasked with finding this unknown person by any means before they can strike again.
But can he untangle the truth before its too late?
I’ll be honest, watching Cleanskin made me think of another British film regarding “homegrown terrorists” – Four Lions. Now, Four Lions didn’t really float my boat, as it were, due to my not being able to find the humour in the subject at hand.
Happily, I can say that isn’t the case with Cleanskin as it treats it with the seriousness that, I think, it deserves. It also manages to make a compelling argument as to why these disillusioned young men decide to do what they do against the country they call home.
That’s not to say that it is overly preachy, which it isn’t, or that it tries to make all the characters “likeable”, which they aren’t.
In fact, pretty much all of the main characters, including (Sean Bean), are capable of terrible acts against other humans. But that doesn’t make them any less compelling or the story any less thrilling.
I’m hesitant to call it entertaining, however, due to the subject matter. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it, far from it, but it’s one of those films that I found quite hard to distance myself from the plot & call it “entertaining”, but it certainly does grip you from the very beginning.
Sean Bean is your typical stoical spy in this, a man of few words who lets his actions speak for him – and it’s a role that he is very familiar with so pulls off easily. On the other hand, Abhin Galeya is a very complex character who is a compelling foil for Sean Bean’s spy.
Writer/director Hadi Hajaig shows an eye for shooting action as well as a great ear for dialogue as none of the characters really feel one note or cursory – even Sean Bean’s Ewan!
There are plenty of spy thrillers out there, but Cleanskin tells a compelling enough tale alongside a lot of action that it is sure to find a space in any thriller lovers collection.
While the story might not be the most original, the way that it is presented and the way that the actors bring it to life is enough to raise it above mediocre & make it worth watching. We live in a time when the actions of this film are all too easily a reality, which adds in another layer of tension to the proceedings, but even without that this would be worth a watch.