Review by Camden Ferrell
Clean is a new thriller movie that might remind viewers of recent films like John Wick or Nobody. Written and directed by Paul Solet, this movie had its premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. It features a determined performance from Adrien Brody, but unlike the films it evokes, it lacks the drive, energy, and emotion that is essential to making these movies memorable.
Clean is a garbage man with a murky past. In an attempt to reconcile these mistakes, he aims to live a life of redemption. His string of good intentions and actions unintentionally make him the target of a small-time crime boss. Clean must now go on a journey of violence to reconcile with his past. This story is interesting, and while it isn’t original, it’s a great premise for an action thriller such as this one.
From the start, the script, written by Solet and Brody, feels incredibly cliché. It’s a boilerplate thriller that replays tired tropes and dialogue that doesn’t do much to grab the audience’s attention. It may feel like John Wick on some superficial levels, but it lacks any of the heart that made it great. The writing feels fairly stale and doesn’t do much to adequately tell Clean’s story.
Unsurprisingly, Brody is quite good as a leading man in this movie. He has always been talented, and even though this is not among his best works, it’s undeniable that he is almost singlehandedly holding the film together. Brody’s performance proves to be the lone highlight as the supporting cast of Glenn Fleshler and Richie Merritt, among others, is bland and pale in comparison to him.
A movie like this one can still have narrative shortcomings but still succeed if its action is superb. Unfortunately, I found myself underwhelmed by the execution of the film’s big action sequences. It isn’t as high-octane as I would have liked, and the choreography of the fights aren’t creative or particularly engaging. An action-thriller lives and dies by its fights, and I didn’t find much to commend in the action of this movie.
Clean wanted to be what John Wick is, but it falls flat on many levels. Nobody can deny that Adrien Brody enjoyed this role, but he couldn’t save the film and its many shortcomings. It’s not actively unpleasant at all, but it doesn’t do much to justify its existence throughout.
Clean is in theaters and on demand January 28.