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Cleaner
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Cleaner More at IMDbPro »

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92 out of 119 people found the following review useful:

Good production spoiled by a weak plot

5/10
Author: pabloz from Finland
18 January 2008

Actually for once I was disappointed after seeing a Renny Harlin movie because I had high hopes for this one. Usually I've known in advance his movies would be bad but "Cleaner" seemed that it might actually be really good for a change. It's not really bad, but it isn't anything great either.

Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris did their job very well in the leading roles and Harlin's direction was also good. Eva Mendes' performance wasn't anything to hooray for though. The movie started off well and I thought to myself: "This might be it. The movie that puts Renny back on the top.", but sadly no. The script is just too basic. You've seen different versions of this script on the screen many many times before. The characters and the world they live in might be totally different, but it's still the same generic plot. One thing that bugged me a bit was the musical score which didn't fit in some places at all.

But as far as Harlin's movies go this is one of his better ones. It just needed that original surprise twist in the end that never came. I can't really recommend you go see this in the cinema, but it's worth a rent.

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65 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

Strong acting, nice filmography.. Just to cover a thin story

6/10
Author: Lavis Jumal from Helsinki, Finland
20 March 2008

As a finnish movie fan, it's always interesting to see a new film from Renny Harlin. Especially when Samuel L. Jackson, one of the most distinctive actors ever, is in it.

Jackson plays a crime scene cleaner, which you think would be what this movie is surrounded on. With all the C.S.I. stuff out there, it might interest some. But the scene where the story starts actually tastes like an idea where to start the story, not a theme for a movie where to excavate.

The plot is an uninspiring one, from the beginning to the end. There are some attempted details and twists to bring some life and excitement to this story. I'm sorry to say they really fail. There is no depth in this movie, and every attempt to create some is exactly that - an attempt.

This is bad cause the acting is pretty and the directing is nice. I can't really understand what the director saw in this script. Maybe the idea of creating something without special effects and exploiting the CSI-thing.

I give this one 6/10. All points going to actors and the director.

The movie is categorized as "Crime / Thriller". If you want anything good (and new) like that I suggest you see "Awake".

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54 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful Photography, Boring Plot and a Poor Ending

6/10
Author: Ryan Hunter from United States
2 April 2008

Cleaner is a surprisingly boring and lackluster movie beautifully photographed. The casting is superb and would seem to be a sure recipe for cinematic success--Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Eve Mendes and Luis Guzman. The dialog is decent and well acted. The plot is where this movie just completely drops the ball.

The plot begins mildly unbelievably--A crime scene cleaner becomes unwittingly immersed in the cover up of a homicide--and then just snowballs downhill from there into a huge police cover-up (I don't want to "spoil" anything for any potential viewers) with an unbelievable plot twist and then ends in a thoroughly stupid and highly implausible ending.

The upside and downside is this movie is beautifully filmed and with such talent, thought and effort that the cinematography itself keeps you thinking it has to get better and it only gets worse.

I hope Ed Harris got paid a lot of money to do this film! Ed does a great job with the little he has to go with and proves what a great actor he is. Eva Mendes does a poor job playing a recent widow to murdered husband (is she angry/sad/sexy/conspiratorial/or just a gold-digger who married a sugar daddy who just got knocked off?). Luis Guzman does a solid job as usual.

I seem to enjoy the movies where Samuel L. Jackson plays a supporting role or shares the lead rather than being the sole lead e.g. Pulp Fiction, The Negotiator, A Time To Kill, etc... In Cleaner he does a reasonable job with a poor plot until the end where his acting coupled with a bad plot twist left me wondering what I could have done better with the time it took to watch Cleaner.

All in all I wish this cast and DoP would have had a better script. I would recommend that Matt Aldrich stick to acting and give up the script-writing. As I think everything was done well except for the storyline/plot aka the script. I give kudos to Renny Harlin (director) for a job well done.

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32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Yet Another Twist on Police Corruption

5/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
8 June 2008

CLEANER is somewhat of an enigmatic movie: it starts out as though it is going to be a sassy comedy about a retired cop whose job it is to 'clean up' after homicides (a distinctly messy and repulsive job), turns into a rather grisly crime investigation story, adds a dollop of 'ain't life grand', and finishes as an exposé of police corruption. The story line by Matthew Aldrich is further fragmented by being so full of holes that the audience has to toss credibility overboard in order to make it through, and the method of direction by Renny Harlin can't seem to settle on which style to take. It is all kind of a mess and justifies the straight to DVD move. The saving grace of the film is a cast of stalwart actors who can make even a shaky script palatable.

Tom Cutler (Samuel L. Jackson) is a 'retired' cop who makes his living cleaning up the gory remainders of criminal acts of homicide and other grisly crimes. We learn his wife was murdered some years ago, leaving him as a single father of the bright and charming teenager Rose (Keke Palmer). Cutler happens on an assignment to clean a particularly gruesome homicide scene in the home of one Ann Northcut (Eva Mendes in a nicely understated role) and as the convoluted story develops, Cutler realizes that the crime scene represents a culmination of forces that threaten to uncork a long history of police corruption - a history that involves him and his best friend Eddie Lorenzo (Ed Harris) and the tough Detective Jim Vargas (a terrific Luis Guzmán). How the story ties together and ends is too loose to convey and would ruin the minimal drama present.

Each of the actors, even the minor roles played very well by such artists as Jose Pablo Cantillo and Robert Forster, give it the full court press. But the see-through script and the jumbled camera work and direction prevent this from being a significant film. Grady Harp

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60 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

Strong Cast, Unsurprising Plot

7/10
Author: cashiersducinemart from Riverview, MI
13 September 2007

A few years ago there was an incredible segment on NPR's "This American Life" about a cleaner of crime scenes. Shortly thereafter, Pruitt Taylor Vince played a character that felt indebted to this NPR piece on "C.S.I." ("Swap Meet"). The bringing together of science and death was perfect for the CBS show. I wasn't so sure if such a character could survive a Renny Harlin film.

Pity poor Renny Harlin. It still feels that he's trying to recover from CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995). His last few films have been lucky to even snag a U.S. theatrical release (MINDHUNTERS wasn't one of these), much less a festival screening. So, that must mean that Harlin is back on top, right? Yes and no.

That CLEANER is playing a film festival is a vote of confidence in the Finnish filmmaker. Yet, CLEANER is a strange choice for a festival program. It's very much a straight-forward thriller along the lines of KISS THE GIRLS or U.S. MARSHALLS. The presence of Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Luis Guzman certainly does well to give the film some credibility and solid performances (though Eva Mendes feels completely out of her league). The script by Matthew Aldrich is a solid, albeit fairly predictable, effort and Harlin does a capable workman's job bringing it to life. I won't object to seeing this one again on cable.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Finally a good movie from Renny Harlin

7/10
Author: azraeliz (azrael@simnet.is) from Reykjavik, Iceland
24 August 2008

I had very low expectations for this movie. Renny Harlin hasn't made a decent movie in many years so I expected the usual crap, but i was very surprised. It had good plot, very nice acting and was well made. Samuel L. Jackson plays a retired police officer who has a "Cleaning company". He cleans up murder scenes and other scenes of death. One day he does a job in a mansion and gets trapped in a web of deceit.

The Movie unfolds in a low key, unusual for Renny, which usually has lot of noise and action in his movies :) It has lot of blood though(not surprising given the title...) So basically this movie is a good way to spent hour and half. Hopefully Renny boy is out of the slums....

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19 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly sluggish and dull for what should have been a thriller

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
10 August 2008

Tom Cutler is a crime scene cleaner – his company is contracted to remove the blood and gore left behind when the authorities have removed the bodies. A former cop, Tom is also a widower with a teenage daughter to look after. Tom gets a job like any other and cleans the mess from a bloody murder in a rich neighbourhood so that nothing remains for the family to see. He goes back the next day to find the family home but that they have no knowledge of his work or indeed that anything untoward happened. Trying to contact the cop who gave Tom the job turns out to be a dead end and a fake name, meaning that Tom has effectively deleted all evidence of a murder before anyone else knew about it. When the police launch a "missing persons" enquiry into a high-profile man in a police corruption case, Tom quickly finds himself up to his neck in trouble.

The cast attracted me to this and I wondered why, with all these people involved, I hadn't heard of it. Watching it helped me understand why it never came to my attention because it doesn't ever get going before it hurts itself. The concept is good enough as we have a former police officer now cleaning crime scenes used to delete the record of murder. On paper what happens also works well as skeletons come out of the closet and the stakes get higher as Tom nears the truth, however when it comes to delivery on screen, it all falls apart. The opening of the film is brisk enough but when it gets to the point where it has to start doing something (ie specifically when the crime is discovered) the film seems to slip into neutral gear and just coast on as before. As a result we get lots of stuff that don't work and should have been minimised or removed and also lots of stuff that is too average to impress.

What I am talking about is the lack of pace and tension in the film; I know that Tom is an older character and that a good thriller doesn't need shouting or running to engage but this film definitely needs some energy injected into it. It drags its way through the plot to the obvious conclusion (and, detail aside, it is pretty obvious) and it never really made me sit up and take notice. A lot of the problem is with the writing because on one hand we clearly have a film that is put together as a thriller but then on the other hand the writer seems keen to drive the film from the characters. Thus we have scenes of domestic troubles, moments with characters revealing things about themselves and, to be blunt, too much talking. It wouldn't matter if the film did this in a way that engaged me but at the same time it is attracting you with the thriller plot so that all this other stuff feels like a waste of time – they could have worked together but here they don't.

The cast can do nothing with it either, although none of them really help themselves. Considering what better films all those involved have done, it is disappointing to see them struggle or fail in different ways. Jackson appears to have been mis-directed because he is looking for something from within his character instead of just flicking into "thriller mode". Neither the material nor the film rewards this approach and his performance ends up feeling like another distraction. He does work well with Palmer though (who herself is very good) but again this whole side of the film feels like a distraction. Harris is obvious and a bit lazy, while Guzmán plays it the way you expect. Mendes is the biggest let-down for me. I know many don't rate her but I think she is good at what she does but, here, she just struggles with her dialogue and character and is about as poor as I think I've seen her.

Overall then what we have here is a flat film that never really sparks into life in any regard. The thriller core lacks energy and the associated threads of family etc are not allowed to grow and end up just being distractions. You can see the potential but without decided what it wants to be, general uncertainty has prevented anyone working too hard and has produced a surprisingly sluggish and dull affair.

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19 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Boring and predictable

6/10
Author: sergepesic from Minneapolis, USA
31 March 2009

What ever happened to Hollywood creativity? There was an interesting idea , about the guy who cleans up the crime scenes and discovers the cover-up of some kind. So far so good, and then it all goes downhill It takes all of grand 5 minutes to completely figure out the whole plot. This movie is ridden with the tritest of clichés. Characters couldn't be more boring and predictable. And the tragic part is,in all of this you could see the potential for a great thriller. It looks like the talentless, behind the scenes moneymakers, once again asserted their rights and ruined yet another movie. Will someone finally get rid of this morons and let the filmmakers do their job as they seem fit.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Director's body of work.

8/10
Author: monteblondo from United States
14 September 2009

Just checked Renny Harlin's data in IMDb and this movie (which completely departs in quality and style from his previous work) is NOT mentioned, can anyone correct this please? About the movie itself, great detail in photography, many small takes that help make it much more enjoyable, good music, Jackson and Harris great performers as always, although Mendez is not as convincing in her role, maybe it's that I have never perceived her as a very good actress, but if the intention was to pass her as a subtle femme fatale then I guess she's worth checking out. The girl playing Tom's daughter does not feel completely convincing as a troubled young woman, maybe this is more the director's fault than a lack of talent from the actress' part. Mr. Guzman's parts are very intense, this guy almost always steals the scene in which he appears, we have seen him grow steadily in each movie and he really delivers.

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24 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

One of Renny Harlin's best movies in a while.

8/10
Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
28 May 2008

Tom Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) is a former police detective, who turned crime scene cleaner. Which he cleans up the mess of people who committed suicide, accidental deaths or murder. After police are done investigate the crime. When Tom does his next clean-up of someone was murder in a high profile mansion. Then he later finds out that he was unwillingly set-up for a cover up. Which his supposedly last client Ann Norcut (Eva Mendes) is starting to ask questions why Tom was in her house, when no one was home. While his former partner (Ed Harris) tries to help Tom with the problem he's facing and while Tom's daughter Rose (Keke Palmer) is trying to ask her father, why her mother was murder awhile back. While the father and daughter relationship proves to be increasingly difficult, since Tom is never quite there for her.

Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2:Die Harder, The Covenant, Mindhunters) made an stylish, interesting, sometimes very fascinating film. Harlin's latest film certain matured a lot, after making Hollywood movies they were always Hits or Misses. The visual style of the picture are the highlight. Scott Kaven's (Cabin Fever, the upcoming Paul W.S. Anderson's Death Race) cinematography are also good. The actors in the film gives good performances. The relationship between the father and daughter are one of the best parts in the picture. While the premise of first-time screenwriter Matthew Aldrich is somewhat original but his script could have been more complex.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD includes an interesting audio commentary by the director, deleted scenes and a digital copy of the movie. This might have came straight to DVD in North America but it came out in Overseas in several European countries. Jackson, who's terrific as usual also worked with director Harlin in the underrated "The Long Kiss Goodnight" and the wildly entertaining "Deep Blue Sea". Which Jackson is also one of the producers of this feature. Luis Gusman appears in a small supporting role is always a hoot in any features he has appeared in. Robert Forster appears in a cameo as well. Fans of film noir will be modestly entertained by the movie. Certainly worth a look. Super 35. (*** ½/*****).

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