Cleanskin [Blu-Ray] Hadi Hajaig

Cleanskin [Blu-Ray] Hadi Hajaig
The term "cleanskin" refers to a domestic terrorist with no previous record or associations with known cells, which, in itself, should outline the subject matter and tone of this titular film. Understandably gritty and grave in depiction, Hadi Hajaig's brutally violent thriller vacillates between the past and present, juxtaposing the eventual "turning" of Muslim law student Ash (Abhin Galeya) with single-minded counter-terrorist agent Ewan Keane's (Sean Bean) relentless search for him. In the present, Keane manoeuvres through London, searching for Ash and his cohorts after they steal Semtex during a very vivid shootout. Taking orders from the steely-eyed Charlotte (Charlotte Rampling) and partnered with quiet family man Mark (Tom Burke), his attention and adherence to the quest and the intelligence he receives blind him to the greater implications of his killing spree. This story is frequently interrupted for various flashbacks in Ash's life, showing him initially as a well-intentioned law student dating classmate Kate (Tuppence Middleton) and then jumping ahead to his coercion and shifted ideology after being recruited by a terrorist leader. Even though this constant fluctuating of narrative does little to heighten the dramatic effectiveness of the piece as intended, Hajaig's overall vision and mature handling of the material make for compelling viewing. Without any unnecessary stylizations, he crafts an abundance of tense and impressively rendered action sequences, demonstrating an affinity for the thriller genre. It's just unfortunate that only Ash is developed as a complete character, provided with motivations, influences and rationale. Keane is mostly just a brooding, one-dimensional cipher, much like everyone depicted here in the fight against terrorism. This approach is understandable, since, as a British film, audience perspective has an obvious slant, but if Keane had been handled with more than just a rote antihero sensibility, the juxtaposing of ideologies might have possessed greater power. Included with the Blu-Ray is a brief, poorly assembled "Making of" that jumps between topics with little logical progression. (eOne)