Tom Cutler, a retired police officer now runs a company which specialises in crime scene clean up. He is assigned a clean up job post a homicide. After doing the job he discovers that he has been conned into cleaning up a crime scene and must try to unravel the mystery behind what happened in that house.Written by
Tell Me Something Good
Written by Stevie Wonder
Performed by Rufus and Chaka Khan
Published by EMI Music Publishing o/b/o Jobete Music Co Inc/Black Bull Music Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises See more »
A mess in need of a cleaner
Last seen together in "The Spirit", Samuel L Jackson and Eva Mendes are cast again in a thriller that sports an interesting concept, only to have that concept crumble towards the end, chunk by chunk. Not surprising then, that having worked with Jackson twice before, director Renny Harlin steps out of the action league for something along the lines of a whodunit crime thriller.
For the most part, Jackson delivers in his role as a retired police detective currently in the business of cleaning up gruesome remains of the dearly departed. Could the title have been any more original? As Tom Cutler, his narration during the opening credits takes us through the repulsive and often overwhelming process of cleaning up a crime scene after forensics have taken away the corpse. As with most cases of death, natural or unnatural, the body is usually taken away for further examination by the coroner, leaving the next of kin to deal with the unsightly job of cleaning whatever remains are left at the scene of death. This is where Cutler comes in, a self employed private cleaner paid by the grieving next of kin to have blood, gore and other fluids spotlessly removed. On one such assignment, Cutler meticulously refurbishes the scene of a blood splattered homicide to its original setting only to learn shortly after, that the cleaning order did not come from the family of the deceased. Complicating the scenario is the absence of a dead body, with the wife of the supposed victim not being aware of a cleaning order in the first place. Realizing that he may have inadvertently destroyed evidence of homicide, Cutler confides in best friend and ex-partner detective Eddie Lorenzo. While Lorenzo (Ed Harris) and Cutler dig deeper into the mystery, they stumble across an increasingly evident case of police corruption of the highest order, a case in which Ann Norcut's (Eva Mendes) missing husband may be been a victim of. In the ensuing plot twist, Cutler establishes a motive, but not before establishing a link between Ann Norcut, Eddie Lorenzo and a ledger of cops on the take.
From a directional perspective, Harlin's attempt at a genre outside his league is undeniably fresh and almost flawless. His use of under toned cinematography evoking a dark atmosphere intentionally disguises the film's secret of a murder most foul. Casting is also stellar with an exceptional performance from Harris, spot on chemistry between Jackson and Keke Palmer in an unstable father-daughter relationship and one of the best roles played out by Luis Guzman as the all too suspicious yet tough detective Jim Vargas. What undermines the potentiality of this being a superb thriller is the total disregard given in founding a solid plot. Not matter what the positives are here, the plot fails to carry its own weight and comes crashing through the roof in a disappointingly predictable second half. All said and done, figuring out who the killer is won't require any special powers of deduction, the biggest mystery perhaps is trying to figure out if the killer had an accomplice and if so, what becomes of this accomplice. Numerous other holes aside, the main problem may be the direction the plot takes, where Jackson's narration in the beginning suggests an indication of dark humor, whereas Palmer's narration in the end suggests something else altogether. In the end, what could have become a sensational whodunit along the lines of "L.A. Confidential", gets reduced to a half baked has-been, any 'Nancy Drew' fan would rather not write home about.
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