Cleaner (2008)

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery
Sony || R - 89 minutes - $24.96 || May 27, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-05-19


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer(s): Matthew Aldrich
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Eva Mendes, Keke Palmer, Robert Forster


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Bonus Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Chinese, French, Thai

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Cleaner is the latest string of direct-to-DVD movies featuring high-profile actors. This particular one stars Samuel L. Jackson as Tom Carver, that guy who comes in after the police and CSIs have investigated a crime/death. You see, the family is responsible for cleaning up the mess (i.e. blood) and Mr. Carver does the job... and does it well. He has a teenage daughter and is himself an ex-cop who quit the force after the murder of his wife (the killer was not only caught but was also killed while in prison). In what should have been a routine job, the cleanup of a murder scene at a posh residence, soon becomes trouble as he discovers that the crime had not been reported and he may have just wiped away the evidence.

Eva Mendes and Ed Harris co-star along with Luis Guzman (and Robert Forster in a very small role). Mendes is the wife of the missing man who we presume was murdered. But the bigger problem for Carver is the man who was probably killed, was set to testify in front of the grand jury, testimony that would have sent many cops to prison for corruption. Ed Harris plays Carverís ex-partner and best friend, Eddie Lorenzo. Carver turns to Lorenzo for help to uncover who sent him to the job as the detective assigned to the case (Guzman) is hot in his trail thinking Carver had something to do with the crime.

The premise of Cleaner is actually quite good and the moment when we realize Carver cleaned up a hot crime scene sets everything in motion the right way. Unfortunately, it doesnít last very long and instead devolves into the same old routine seen time and again. If it werenít for these A-list actors, this would have been a forgettable affair, but with the presence of Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris, two actors who rarely disappoint, it takes a below average film up to mediocrity.

Minor Spoilers Ė Could Give Away Twists
The problem with this movie isnít for the lack of fine performances or even the direction from Renny Harlin, a director who often deserves criticism, but the writing isnít up to snuff which is why it surprises me to see this caliber of talent. Leaving aside a paper-thin plot, the whole thing is so predictable, it isnít even funny. This is coming from someone, despite seeing thousands of films throughout his lifetime, can be fooled fairly easily. Writer Matthew Aldrich, in his debut, tries to add depth and even some poetry with the title ďCleanerĒ, but it isnít enough.

Having said that, I still found the movie fairly entertaining because of Jackson and Harris (and Mendes ainít too bad to look at either). The story isnít all that great, maybe a hair above an episode of ďCSIĒ, but it does rise above some of the direct-to-DVD flicks released now-a-days. If one could ignore the screenplay, I think this had a shot at being a top-notch mystery-drama, but as it stands, itís only decent.

Cleaner co-stars Jose Pablo Cantillo (Disurbia) and was co-produced by Samuel L. Jackson.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

As per with many recent Sony releases, this comes with a Bonus Digital Copy you can either download to your PC, PSP or PS3. Since I have only 1 out of those 3 (PC), itís really of no use to me.

Feature Commentary - Director Renny Harlin provides an informative, though tad dry, commentary track. He gives out some trivia like how the project came about or filming in Shreveport, Louisiana (standing in as New Jersey). Like I said, itís not terribly lively but he keeps talking throughout leaving no stone unturned.

Deleted Scenes (15:17) Ė Six scenes have been included on the disc. All the scenes feature Samuel L. Jackson and one is more of an alternate scene. Although Jackson is good in all of them, making this film slimmer was the right move.





.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Cleaner is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.40 AR. The film looks fairly clean though with no real visual flair, thereís nothing really to judge here. It looks good, no scratches or dust specs (which any recent film shouldnít have) so it gets solid marks.

The soundtrack wasnít particularly impressive, just serviceable enough that you can understand the dialogue and get musical cues and ambient noises coming out the other speakers. The disc includes Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, Thai and French and offers subtitles in all those plus Chinese.



.::OVERALL::.

Cleaner isnít a mystery-drama that will tax oneís mind. In fact, if it werenít for the cast, it is a film left with only a thin story but with someone of Sam Jacksonís stature along with Ed Harris and Eva Mendes; it helps mask some major flaws to make this film better that it really deserves.