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Genre Mystery
Year: 2007

Cleaner is directed by Renny Harlin, and tells the story of an ex-cop sterilisation cleaner, who becomes unknowingly involved in a homicide after doing a cover-up job. Harlin is best known for The Long Kiss Goodnight, Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2. Samuel L. Jackson stars in Cleaner, and the two have worked in a number of similar projects. Jackson has starred in The Exorcist III, while Harlin directed the latest prequel. Jackson starred in Die Hard 3, while Harlin directed Die Hard 2. Then Jackson has starred in Deep Blue Sea and The Long Kiss Goodnight, two of Harlin’s movies.

Cleaner starts off with loads of potential as a stylish crime thriller with the makings of a classic. However, this whodunnit thriller doesn’t measure up to expectations. The performances from Jackson, Harris and Palmer are solid, with average turn-outs from Guzman and Mendes. Harlin’s direction is slick, stylish and clinical. However, Matthew Aldrich’s script doesn’t manage to iron out the kinks.

Aldrich sets the scene for a throttling thriller with do-or-die scenarios, but the plot doesn’t seem to match the performances or direction. Instead of conjuring an Agatha Christie novel conclusion, Aldrich falls back on a half-hearted stand off. This doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film and the puzzle pieces don’t make a snug fit. Two principal characters are mentioned until their names are almost worn out, but they remain in the lost-and-found closet. The narrative darts around as the cleaner becomes something of a detective story, but there’s very little hands-on “Columbo” detection going on.

The script points fingers in almost every direction in an attempt to sideline the audience, but this cloak doesn’t hide the simple plot. Cleaner’s performances are good, but not strong enough to hinge on. In the end, an appealing cast and stylish movie lose the race to an unsatisfactory story and conclusion. The ride is entertaining, the CSI cleaning jobs are intriguing and the homicide does hold our attention. However, the story is just a dumpster of untold secrets that implode in a sequential format. You won’t regret watching Cleaner, but you’d have to be bribed to watch it again.

The bottom line: Stylish.

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