Thoughts: Writer/Director/Producer Hadi Hajaig delivers an interesting and brutally entertaining Terrorism-based thriller with Cleanskin. I enjoy Sean Bean when he's all grizzled and haunted (read: I enjoy him all the time) so watching him chase down an unknown terrorist using any- ANY- means necessary, is a great buzz. But what was more surprising about Cleanskin, was how interesting the other half of the story is: that of our "unknown" terrorist, and how he goes from struggling law student to willing martyr over the course of half a decade.
Sean Bean plays ex-MI6 Ewan, turned hired security for high-value political clients. In the opening sequence we watch as he fails in his attempts to block an attempt on his client, and gets gravely injured in the process. Snap forward, and he is now getting called upon by his old handler Charlotte (Charlotte Rampling) to stop a "cleanskin" from fulfilling a terrorist attack. For note, a cleanskin is a terrorist that has committed an act of terrorism, and has no record or comes up with no previous intelligence or affiliation with any known terrorism cells. Dangerous, because their motives or masters cannot be identified. Abhin Galeya does wonderful work from the other side of the fence, portraying our bad-man Ash with wide-eyed innocence at the start, and as he progresses, with the self-imposed world on his shoulders.
The action is bad-ass and brutal. Fights don't last long, nor do they need to. Damage is being dealt by both parties, with intent to maim or kill high on the list. Blood flows freely, and any means is taken to move the case forward, from both sides. Sean Bean brings his usual awesomeness to the role of Ewan, dishing out and taking punishment from start to finish. But what was really surprising was how well Abhin Galeya works with the script and the part. You feel for him quite easily, and the pace of the film picks up considerably once you start to delve into his past and reasoning. It seems odd to say that when juxtaposed against the action onscreen, but it is true. It's like the film doesn't feel natural until that point.
The direction is solid, really solid in fact. It is slick without feeling youtube'd, straight without feeling staid. It handles the subject matter with a raw feel, just like the story itself.
There's not much I can say really. I enjoyed it, a fair bit actually. Its a low-key thriller with a compelling story and great characters. I'd actually like to see more of the haunted Ewan, but considering the ending, I don't think that'll be happening anytime soon.