5 Out Of 10

Release Date: 9th of March 2012

Director: Hadi Hajaig

Cast: Sean Bean, Charlotte Rampling, Abhin Galeya, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke, Peter Polycarpou, Silas Carson, Chris Ryman with James Fox and Michelle Ryan 

Writer:  Hadi Hajaig


Cleanskin is an awkward movie.  In fact its two films on a collision course, one basic yet thoughtful and the other is a brutal Jason Statham-style vehicle.  Sean Bean (THE AGE OF HEROES) plays a government henchman, Ewan, called in by countries shadowy elements to clean up and unofficially keep our nation safe.  A human bomb goes off in a crowded London restaurant and intelligence agencies’ top brass Charlotte (CHARLOTTE RAMPLING – I ANNA) and Scott (JAMES FOX – W/E) call in Ewan to follow up any leads.  His target proves to be a cleanskin which refers to a hitherto un-branded criminal, someone with no visible links to crime but in this case religious extremism.  Whilst Ewan and his shady partner, Mark (TOM BURKE – ONLY GOD FORGIVES) tear London apart to neutralise the next city bomber, who could strike anywhere at anytime.  Sean Bean’s half of the story is obviously the Jason Statham half!

The other half of the tale is the story of the man who becomes the next bomber. Abhin Galeya (THE BILL) plays Ash, an intelligent university student who falls under the thrall of terror cleric Nabil (PETER POLYCARPOU – EVITA) who, at first spins a web with light humour, leading to loaded questions, which lead to a call to action, which lead to a violent act which will then lead to the ultimate sacrifice in the name of his god.  Sensitively played but rolled out in simplistic form our conflicted protagonist has the unenviable task of humanising a man on a terrible terrible mission. A man with the worst burden of all. Cleanskin may have worked better if this half of the story had been the main part.  The scenes involving Sean Bean and his mission to find and stop Ash seem stitched in and redundant seeing as Bean is called on to do very little except grunt and beat people up.  Ash’s journey from regular Muslim twenty-something into a targeted weapon is an intriguing point of view for a mainstream movie and it seems cheapened by it’s action sub-plot. The acting is great across the board but the conspiracy plot involving Charlotte Rampling is a bit of an afterthought and not worth much thought. Oh and Michelle Ryan (THE MAN INSIDE) pops up in a dreadfully wooden cameo to upset proceedings for the full 90 seconds she’s on screen. On the other hand Silas Carson’s (STAR WARS- THE REVENGE OF THE SITH) terrorist trainee Amin is on chilling form. He puts Ash down with a look a disdain even for the way he eats a curry with a knife and fork and just two words “English Man”.  One of my favourite characters in a Britpic of 2012 but he’s not around for long.

Cleanskin was probably a brave movie once but it does seem to be compromised by the need for the need to have an equally fanatical English thug to contrast with the demonic suicide bomber. It’s a film of extremes but at least it exists in some format.  It’s over simplistic but the Daily Mail style histrionics and plotting serves well only to show how easy some of our youth are being corrupted by a certain element in our society posing as divine religious community leaders.  I’d like to see one of those guys strap a bomb to themselves instead of corrupting the minds of brave young men and sending them to untimely deaths.

5 out of 10 – Recommended to spark conversation. But it’s a little too on the nose to be anything more than a good vs evil film.  A little more complexity would have elevated the film but it’s need to satisfy action-hounds dilutes what serious issues managed to make the final edit.  In that it shows the situation from the ‘bombers’ point of view too is a major plus.  Portraying him as a conflicted and identifiable human being is applaudable too and scary in equal measure to.  This is a vast improvement on the 2008 Britpic Shoot On Sight which was a muddled attempt to address the July 2005 London suicide bombings.


  • Sean Bean: The Martian, Pixels, Jupiter Ascending, Percy Jackson 2, Silent Hill 2, Mirror Mirror, Game Of Thrones (TV), The Age Of Heroes, Deathrace 2, Black Death, Percy Jackson, Far North, Outlaw, The Hitcher (2007), Silent Hill, Flight Plan, North Country, The Island, The Dark, National Treasure, Troy, Lord Of The Rings- Fellowship Of The Ring, Equilibrium, Don’t Say a Word, Ronin, Anna Karenina (1997), When Saturday Comes, Essex Boys, James Bond- Goldeneye, Black Beauty (1994), Shopping, Sharpe (TV), Patriot Games, The Field, War Requiem, Stormy Monday, Caravaggio
  • Charlotte Rampling: 45 Years, The Sea, Nymphomaniac, The Eye of the Storm, I AnnaMelancholia, Never Let Me GoStreetdance, The Duchess, Babylon AD, Basic Instinct 2, Swimming Pool, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Spy Game, Under The Sand, The Wings Of The Dove, Paris By Night, Angel Heart, Stardust Memories, The Night Porter, Vanishing Point
  • Abhin Galeya: The Bill (TV)
  • Tuppence Middleton: Spooks – The Greater Good, Jupiter Ascending, The Imitation Game, The Love Punch, A Long Way DownTranceTrap For Cinderella, SkeletonsChatroom, Tormented
  • Tom Burke: War & Peace (TV), The Hooligan Factory, The Invisible Woman, Only God Forgives, Third Star, The Kid (2010), Telstar, Cheri, Donkey Punch
  • Peter Polycarpou: Evita
  • Silas Carson: The Dying of the Light, It’s a Lot, Pimp,  Star Wars – Revenge Of The Sith (voice), Star Wars – Attack Of The Clones (voice), Star Wars – The Phantom Menace (voice)
  • Chris Ryman: Brotherhood, The London Firm
  • Michelle Ryan: Cockney’s Vs. Zombies, The Man Inside (2012), 4-3-2-1, Cashback, Huge, Eastenders (TV)
  • James Fox: Effie Gray, The Double (2014), W/E, The Kid (2010), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005), The Prince and Me, Sexy Beast, The Golden Bowl, Mickey Blue Eyes, Anna Karenina (1997), The Remains Of The Day, As You Like It (1992), Patriot Games, Afraid Of The Dark, The Russia House, The Mighty Quinn, Farewell To The King, Passage To India, Greystoke- The Legend Of Tarzan, Performance, The Servant

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