Cleaner, The (2007)

Rated: Rated R for bloody images, some violence and language.
Length: 92 minutes
Grade: BDBC=B-
Budget: $17 million
Box Office: $0 million ($6 million DVD)

Written by: Matthew Aldrich, with his first script and some amazing actors given that fact.
Directed by: Renny Harlin, who previously made action/horror movies like The Covenant, Driven, Deep Blue See, Long Kiss Goodnight, Cliffhanger, and Die Hard. That’s how they got the actors.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Eva Mendes, and Luis Guzman.

A former cop who now cleans crime scenes finds himself embroiled in a murder cover-up when he unknowingly cleans a murder scene of all the evidence before the crime was even reported. At the same time, he tries to navigate his relationship with a teenage daughter who wants to know more about how her mother was murdered many years ago.

Entertainment Value: B
Look, it’s beyond me why this movie was never released to the public theaters since its stars were so big, but I don’t imagine ever seeing a movie with Ed Harris and Samuel L. Jackson that’s awful. My only disappointment here was that this movie was so good in the beginning (an elegant fascinating story) but about two thirds of the way through, it became muddled and confusing. Still, overall, quite entertaining despite its abysmal returns.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality B, Violence D, Language F, Illegality D
This was far less gruesome than I expected. Sure there are several scenes of him cleaning up awful crimes, but there’s probably nothing here you wouldn’t see on CSI ( don’t watch it, so I don’t know for certain.) The language is certainly what makes this R, and it’s so constant in parts that I can’t even edit it out enough to play some of the more interesting clips. The plot is definitely mature, and R is certainly correct.

Significant Content: B
Family matters greatly, and loyalty is a hugely emphasized theme here. Being willing to admit your mistakes is the mark of a good man. We need other people in our lives, no matter how we try to create an independent life. The world is a messy place.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
Again, I though the majority of the movie had a particularly well crafted tone, including everything from camera angles, scene choices, and Jackson’s demeanor. But then it sort of fell apart and didn’t hold up through the end. Also, there are some very good questions that come from this movie involving loyalty, friendship, and corruption.

Discussion Questions:
~In what ways would you describe Tom as a good father? In what ways could he be better? What about Tom as an employer? Why are some people so loyal to him?
~What do you think of his initial efforts to cover everything up and act as if nothing had happened? ~Was he foolish for doing this, or was he just being practical given what he knows about corruption in the police force?
~Do you think it’s a good idea to make movies that feature police corruption as a major plot element?
~What determines whether someone is a good friend or not? Evaluate whether Eddie is one.
~Do you think Rose’s interest in her mother’s death is her killer are natural? Healthy?

Overall Grade: B-
It’s fairly interesting, and the acting is quite good. Too bad they couldn’t get a movie with this title “cleaned” up enough to make it the outstanding police drama it could have been.

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