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Released 9 March 2012
Director Hadi Hajaig

Sean Bean, Abhin Galeya, Charlotte Rampling, Peter Polycarpou, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke, Sam Douglas, Michelle Ryan
Writer(s) Hadi Hajaig
Producer(s) Hadi Hajaig
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 108 minutes
Genre Thriller
Rating 16

Mission accomplished.

The thing about Sean Bean is that you get exactly what it says on the tin, which is in some cases a deterrent but with him a blessing. Don't get me wrong, Bean is not a groundbreaking actor, neither is he that inspiring or cutting-edge, but he is solidly entertaining – something that is usually reflected in characters he portrays on screen. While Cleanskin is nowhere near perfect, it does offer ample spills and twists to make this terrorist thriller a worthwhile watch.

A cleanskin is generally an undercover agent unknown to his or her targets but the term took on an alternative meaning during the London bombings in 2005 as a trained terrorist completely unknown to the authorities. Set in the English capital, there are many references to the fatal bombings seven years ago which adds both depth and distraction to the overall story.

Bean plays the secret agent Ewan who is tasked with the mission of preventing the next in a series of suicide bombings, partly orchestrated by main antagonist Ash (Abhin Galeya). Ewan is depicted as a simplistic patriot that will kill at all costs to protect his country but it isn't long before his underlying reasons and inner demons emerge. The film though, focuses more on Ash with various flashbacks to his past outlining a transformation from an inquisitive, naive law student to an influenced, dangerous terrorist.

The main problem with the movie is that in several parts it feels clunky while the script can at times, and particularly near the end, be preachy in an undignified manner. This is evidently on purpose, unsparingly launching digs at both sides but it doesn't work. Indeed, it is annoying. That said, the sprinkled action sequences are what tie the film together, providing gritty and well choreographed scenes.

An independent film on a relatively low budget, there is no denying that Cleanskin is flawed – it definitely won't provide you with the post-reflection period on terrorism, religion and politics that it undoubtedly aims to achieve – but it offers more than enough for an enjoyable trip to the cinema.

- David Caulfield